AMA Delegates Adopt Policies on Reproductive Health Care, Firearm Violence

Advocate Masthead

Many priorities discussed at the November meeting of the AMA House of Delegates align with priorities of ACP

Jan. 13, 2023 (ACP) — As the American Medical Association wrapped up its interim meeting in Honolulu in November, one thing was clear: The ideological gap between the AMA and the American College of Physicians is shrinking.

AMA priorities are now closely aligned with those of ACP on a number of vital issues, such as reproductive rights and firearm violence. “As one of its largest delegations, we have increasing influence on AMA policy, and the AMA is increasingly moving toward where ACP members stand,” said Dr. William Golden, professor of medicine and public health at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and head of the ACP delegation to the AMA.

During the meeting, held Nov. 12 to 15, AMA delegates adopted policies opposing criminalizing pregnancy loss due to medically necessary care. They also supported more access to abortion care.

“There's great concern that the current environment is tying the hands of physicians and limiting what they can say and do,” Golden said. “There are no great solutions, but it is a major concern of AMA delegates.”

In regard to firearm violence, AMA delegates formed a task force that will explore ways to prevent gun violence and violence in general. “As physicians and healers, we are committed to ending firearm violence by advocating for common-sense, evidence-based solutions, and this task force will be key to that ongoing effort,” said Dr. Jack Resneck Jr., AMA president.

The organization will also explore gun ownership and firearm suicides among seniors. “People are getting tired of the violence, and delegates are pushing the AMA to do more,” said Golden, who noted that the AMA position on firearm violence is similar to that of ACP.

However, the AMA is still not aligned with ACP regarding a public option -- a public health plan created by the government that would compete with private insurers. ACP is a strong supporter of a public option, and its members urged their colleagues in the AMA to support it and push Congress to take action.

Some delegates were “very leery of the public option because they thought it would be a back door to a single-payer system,” Golden said. “In our comments, we said the public option would be one of several options that people could subscribe to. We only lost by a few votes. We left the meeting with more or less of a status quo, which is a good thing, since there was an opportunity for AMA to backtrack.”

In the big picture, the AMA positions on reproductive rights and firearm violence reflect the organization's ideological evolution. It has become more progressive and is “quite a bit different than it was 10 to 12 years ago,” Golden said. “It's much more open to reducing disparities in health care and to speaking out on social issues.”

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