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The American Medical Association (AMA) got involved in a debate over anti-abortion law for the second time this year. Actually, AMA is now suing North Dakota to block two different anti-abortion laws from going into effect. Those two laws they are against would require doctors to lie to patients, and that’s an ethical breach they refuse to accept. It may be the signal the doctors' group is shifting to a more aggressive stance as the Trump administration and state conservatives ratchet up efforts to eliminate legal abortion.
AMA President Patrice Harris said in an interview, the organization felt it had to take a stand because new laws forced the small number of doctors who perform abortions to lie to patients, putting "physicians in a place where we are required by law to commit an ethical violation."
As the National Public Radio reports, one of the laws, set to take effect August 1, requires physicians to tell patients that medication abortions — a procedure involving two drugs taken at different times — can be reversed. The AMA said that is "a patently false and unproven claim unsupported by scientific evidence." North Dakota is one of several states to pass such a measure, even as researchers who study the procedure say it's not effective.
The other law requires doctors to tell patients that abortions terminate “the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” That’s a conservative opinion, not a medical fact, and the AMA said they don’t want doctors functioning “as the mouthpiece of the state.”
It’s the second time this year the AMA has taken legal action on an abortion-related issue. In March, the group filed a lawsuit in Oregon in response to the Trump administration’s new rules for the federal family planning program. Those rules would, among other things, ban doctors and other health professionals from referring pregnant patients for abortions.
“The Administration is putting physicians in an untenable situation, prohibiting us from having open, frank conversations with our patients about all their health care options — a violation of patients’ rights under the [AMA] Code of Medical Ethics,” wrote then-AMA President Barbara McAneny.
Mary Ziegler, a law professor at Florida State University who has written several books about abortion, says it is not entirely clear why the AMA has suddenly become more outspoken on women's reproductive issues. One reason could be that the organization's membership is skewing younger and less conservative. Also this year, for the first time, the AMA's top elected officials are all women.
No matter what is the reason the American Medical Association reacts, it is certainly important that the abortion is viewed from a medical rather than a religious point of view.