WASHINGTON February 27, 2023 — Patients need to be able to access comprehensive reproductive health services without undue government interference, including abortion, says the American College of Physicians (ACP) in a new policy paper published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Reproductive Health Policy in the United States: An ACP Policy Brief, details new recommendations to protect patient access to care through the freedom to travel to seek medical care, the ability to receive prescription medication in the mail or via other shipping and delivery services, and oppose efforts to criminalize the practice of medicine and restrict access to care.
“Our patients need assurance that they will continue to be able to access all of the health care services they need,” said Ryan D. Mire, MD, MACP, president, ACP. “After last year’s Supreme Court decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, we have seen stringent restrictions and prohibitions being placed on the provision of abortion services. The restrictions are using new legal strategies to limit access for residents in some states.”
ACP’s recommendations oppose government restrictions that would erode equitable access to reproductive health care services, including family planning, sexual health information, the full range of medically accepted forms of contraception, and abortion. ACP also opposes criminal or civil penalties for providing or otherwise facilitating clinically appropriate health care services that meet the standard of care. The recommendations specifically denounce regulations that allow private citizens to have the ability to enforce state laws and the use of personal health information to prosecute or penalize individuals. Finally, ACP affirms that individuals should have access to high-quality health care regardless of where they live; including the ability to have legally prescribed drugs shipped and delivered, and the freedom to travel across state or U.S. borders to access health care services.
“ACP has been particularly alarmed by restrictions on reproductive services that would subject physicians to stiff criminal penalties for providing, or even simply making a referral for abortion care,” continued Dr. Mire. “Our patients need to know that their physicians can provide them with the medical care and advice that they need. And physicians need to be free to care for our patients in accordance with our clinical judgment and based on clinical evidence and the standard of care, without being threatened with punitive laws.”
The recommendations released today are an update and expansion of ACP’s paper, Women’s Health Policy in the United States, that was published in Annals in 2018.
“ACP reaffirms our opposition to undue and unnecessary governmental interference in the patient-physician relationship,” concluded Dr. Mire. “Instead of increasing restrictions, we should be focusing on new policies that promote equitable access to reproductive health care services and safeguard maternal health.”
About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 160,000 internal medicine physicians, related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
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