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ACP Update: Women’s Health & SCOTUS Leak

May 10, 2022

Dear ACP members,

Recent developments are putting patients at risk in ways that conflict with long-standing policies adopted by the American College of Physicians (ACP) to protect patient health, privacy and autonomy and the patient-physician relationship, from government interference. As your elected ACP leaders, we want to share with you our grave concern about the potential impact of the recently revealed draft majority opinion from the Supreme Court of the United States that, if adopted as the court’s final ruling, would overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey and take away the constitutional right of millions of Americans to make their own decisions about their health care.

ACP policy firmly supports patient autonomy and ensuring access for all patients to the full range of reproductive health care services, including abortion. A patient’s decision about whether to continue a pregnancy should be a private decision made in consultation with a physician or other health care professional, without interference from the government. We strongly oppose medically unnecessary government restrictions on any health care services. ACP continues to support the current and long-established legal framework that allows women to obtain abortions and opposes efforts that would further restrict a woman's right to privacy in medical decision making. The draft majority opinion would allow states to severely limit or ban abortion and expose physicians to criminal charges and/or lawsuits if they counsel, refer, or perform abortions. Several states have already enacted laws with such provisions that would automatically be effective immediately if Roe and Casey are overturned.

Also troubling is that the draft majority opinion may have wide ranging implications beyond access to abortion. The decision could immediately threaten access to some forms of contraception and potentially to fertility treatments in some states. The reasoning included in the leaked draft of the decision could also threaten other constitutional privacy protections.

We hope that the final ruling, expected in a few months, will differ from the draft opinion, and uphold patient rights and the patient-physician relationship. We will continue to advocate with the administration, Congress, state lawmakers, governors, and other policymakers to ensure the continued protection of access to abortion and other reproductive health care.

Additional information about ACP’s stance on this and related issues can be found in our policies, Women’s Health Policy in the United States and Statement of Principles on the Role of Governments in Regulating the Patient-Physician Relationship.

Ryan D. Mire, MD, FACP, president, ACP

Sue S. Bornstein, MD, FACP, chair, Board of Regents, ACP