Abortion lawsuit casts doctors into debate

American Medical Association logo. (American Medical Association/TNS)

The American Medical Association is suing North Dakota to block two abortion-related laws, the latest 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.

The group, which represents all types of physicians, has tended to stay on the sidelines of many controversial political issues, and until recently has done so concerning abortion and contraception. Instead, it has focused on legislation that affects the practice and finances of large swaths of its membership.

But, said AMA President Patrice Harris 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.”

One of the laws, set to take effect Aug. 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.

The AMA, along with the last remaining abortion clinic in the state, is also challenging an existing North Dakota law that requires doctors to tell pregnant women that an abortion terminates “the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” The AMA said that law “unconstitutionally forces physicians to act 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.

Tribune Wire

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