The American Medical Association (AMA), the United States' largest physicians' organization, is suing North Dakota over the constitutionality of two abortion measures that it says force providers to "contradict reality and science."
Filing a lawsuit of this nature is an unprecedented move for the association, which has largely shied away from weighing in on issues perceived as highly controversial, such as abortion care and access to contraception. But in light of the unprecedented attacks on abortion care at the state level, the organization has decided to take a stand.
“The patient-physician relationship is the cornerstone of healthcare, and depends upon honest, open conversations about all of a patient’s healthcare options,” AMA President Patrice Harris, MD, said in a statement. “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 healthcare options available to patients.”
Two measures are at the heart of the lawsuit, which AMA filed alongside the Center for Reproductive Rights and North Dakota's only abortion provider, Red River Women’s Clinic. The first, House Bill 1336, set to take effect in August, requires physicians to tell patients that a medication abortion — which takes place in the first trimester — can be "reversed." There's no scientific evidence to support this claim. The law also requires abortion providers to "give patients government-scripted information on where to find a medical professional who will provide an experimental and unethical treatment to 'reverse' an abortion — a treatment that is already seemingly prohibited by North Dakota law," the AMA said in a statement.
The second measure challenged in the lawsuit forces providers to tell patients that by choosing an abortion, they're terminating "the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being." The requirement, AMA argued, "unconstitutionally forces physicians to act as the mouthpiece of the state."
The lawsuit comes at a moment when lawmakers are attacking access to abortion at a rapid pace. This year alone, anti-abortion lawmakers have introduced and passed an unprecedented number of measures restricting access to the procedure or outright banning it in most circumstances. According to the Guttmacher Institute, at least 378 abortion restrictions were introduced between January 1 and May 20 of this year, 40% of which banned the procedure.