The American Medical Association took an unprecedented stand against state abortion laws

As states continue to fight against abortion rights, pro-choice advocates and organizations are pushing back to protect reproductive health care. And with the challenges to reproductive rights growing more intense by the day, it seems like more groups are compelled to fight back. The American Medical Association (AMA) is taking a stand against restrictive abortion laws in North Dakota.

CBS News reports that the AMA is suing North Dakota over two of its abortion laws, referred to as “compelled speech laws.” One of the laws forces doctors to tell patients that a medication abortion can be reversed if they have only taken one of the two medications involved. As the AMA wrote in its suit, this is “patently false.” A separate North Dakota law requires physicians to describe abortion as terminating “the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being.” In a press release, the AMA describes this message as “controversial, ideological, and non-medical” and writes that this law “unconstitutionally forces physicians to act as the mouthpiece of the state.”

According to the press release, the AMA listed the Center for Reproductive Rights, Red River Women’s Clinic (North Dakota’s sole abortion clinic), and the clinic’s medical director as co-plaintiffs in its lawsuit.

"The patient-physician relationship is the cornerstone of health care, and depends upon honest, open conversations about all of a patient’s health care options," AMA President Dr. Patrice Harris said in the release. "North Dakota’s law undermines this relationship by requiring physicians to mislead and misinform their patients with messages that contradict reality and science. The AMA will always defend science and open conversations about all health care options available to patients."

Kaiser Health News notes on that in the past, the AMA, which represents physicians in the U.S., has steered clear of taking a stand on issues like abortion and contraception. This lawsuit marks a significant shift in the organization’s stance. The AMA filed another lawsuit over abortion rights in March in Oregon, challenging rules from the Trump administration that would prohibit doctors from giving pregnant patients abortion referrals. Mary Ziegler, a law professor at Florida State University, told Kaiser Health News that in the 19th century, the organization opposed legalizing abortion, and in 1997, it endorsed a Republican-led ban on “partial-birth” abortion.

Given the AMA’s track record, its new, vocal stance is a huge deal. Everyone deserves access to medically accurate information, and we’re glad that the AMA is fighting to make that happen.

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