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Chorus of medical authorities attack abortion decision

Condemnations warn of "an Orwellian dystopia" in health care, ask doctors to take a stand against state restrictions set in motion by the ruling.

U.S. Supreme Court
A recent New England Journal of Medicine editorial has warned that the reversal of Roe will lead to "an Orwellian dystopia" within the United States.
TNS file photo
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ROCHESTER, Minn. — Several of the nation's leading medical and health authorities have condemned the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturns Roe v. Wade and sends the issue of abortion to the individual states.

Among the latest objections, medicine's largest member association describes the reversal of Roe as "a direct attack on the practice of medicine," and calls for American doctors to take a stand against new restrictions on abortion.

"The American Medical Association is deeply disturbed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn nearly a half century of precedent protecting patients’ right to critical reproductive health care," wrote American Medical Association president Dr. Jack Resnick Jr. in a statement released Friday, June 24.

"This is an egregious allowance of government intrusion into the medical examination room," Resnick continued, "a direct attack on the practice of medicine and the patient-physician relationship, and a brazen violation of patients’ rights to evidence-based reproductive health services."

The day prior, the association's flagship Journal of the American Medical Association called upon doctors to "be vocal advocates against state laws that interfere with medical care."

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In a June 23 editorial titled "The Impending Crisis of Access to Safe Abortion Care in the US," the journal advised clinicians in states with bans to become knowledgeable about organizations that "provide information and logistical support to people seeking care out of state," and to "communicate their commitment to helping patients obtain the care they need if they are ever faced with an unwanted pregnancy."

The editorial further advised physicians "to become informed and be prepared to respond to questions from patients regarding self-managed abortion."

Calling the practice a "harm reduction approach" comparable to those used under restrictive abortion laws in Uruguay and Peru, the editorial offered the caveat that U.S. physicians could face restrictions not applicable to South American doctors.

An editorial in the Monday, June 27, New England Journal of Medicine said the Supreme Court ruling "inserts government into the personal lives and health care of Americans." Editors noted that the legal status of in vitro fertilization, which accounts for roughly 2% of all births in the U.S., has likely been thrown into jeopardy by the decision, as has that of intrauterine devices and hormonal contraception.

"Without federal protection, state laws curtailing or eliminating the right to abortion care will ... create an Orwellian dystopia," according to the editorial.

The condemnations join those released by federal health officials on the day of the ruling, including tweets by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Wallensky and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. Wollensky tweeted that the high court opinion was "dangerous" and will "put lives at risk," while Murthy used the popular social media platform to call the decision "a major step backward for public health."

The Minnesota Medical Association on Friday, June 24, released a letter opposing the decision, cosigned by four other state medical specialty organizations.

The association and Minnesota chapters of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Academy of Family Physicians, the Association of African American Physicians and the American College of Physicians wrote that they were "disappointed and deeply concerned" with the decision.

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"We are committed to ensuring access to safe, effective, and equitable health care, to upholding the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship, and to protecting physicians and other health care professionals from criminal penalties for the delivery of evidence-based health care services," the authors wrote.

Related Topics: ABORTION
Paul John Scott is the health reporter for NewsMD and the Rochester Post Bulletin. He is a novelist and was an award-winning magazine journalist for 15 years prior to joining the FNS in 2019.
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