Wednesday, October 13, 2021

APA Joins Amicus Brief Against Texas Abortion Law

A Texas law to prohibit abortions after six weeks’ gestation threatens the health of pregnant women, runs counter to settled constitutional law, and offends core principles of medical ethics. So said APA and 18 other medical organizations in an amicus brief submitted to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

The brief, written by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, urges the court to uphold a lower court’s temporary restraining order against the law. The Texas law (SB 8) prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks’ gestation—before many women know they are pregnant. Moreover, the law allows private individuals to take steps to enforce the ban against anyone who provides abortion care or helps a patient access abortion care after fetal cardiac tones can be detected.

“The Act threatens the health and well-being of pregnant patients by barring their access to a safe and essential component of reproductive health care,” according to the amicus brief. “In so doing, it disproportionately harms the most marginalized people in Texas—communities of color, people with low incomes, and those living in rural areas. SB 8 undermines longstanding principles of medical ethics. It forces clinicians into an untenable position of facing potentially unlimited personal and professional liability if they provide care consistent with their best medical judgment, scientific evidence, and moral and ethical duty.”

The brief adds: “SB 8 impermissibly intrudes into the patient-clinician relationship by deputizing community members and citizens to file suit and seek a civil reward of ‘not less than $10,000’ based on allegations that a physician or other health care professional facilitated a banned abortion. The Act creates an open-ended class of potential plaintiffs who might file harassing lawsuits, heavily favoring those plaintiffs in court, and extending liability to anyone in a woman’s support network who plays a role in facilitating a prohibited abortion.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Abortion-Specific State Conscience Laws Reflect Need to Balance M.D., Patient Rights.”

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