On Thursday, the American Medical Association (AMA) asked the Supreme Court to strike down a Trump administration rule that prohibits taxpayer-funded clinics from referring people for abortions. The AP reports that the AMA, the largest doctor’s group in the country, decided to take action after two U.S. appeals courts issued conflicting rulings about the legality of the Trump administration rule.
After the recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the appointment of another conservative judge could lead to the overturning of the Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion. But the Trump administration’s attacks on Title X, the federal family planning program, have already severely limited abortion access—especially for low-income patients.
In 2019, the Trump Administration passed this domestic gag rule which prohibited clinics funded by the Title X family planning program from providing abortion referrals to their patients. Unsurprisingly, this led to Planned Parenthood and more than 900 other reproductive health clinics and providers withdrawing from Title X, which also meant that the clinics could no longer offer health services like birth control and STD screening for free or at discounted prices for low-income patients.
The AMA sees the rule as controlling and limiting communication between doctors and their patients by preventing clinics from giving abortion referrals and forcing them to refer them for prenatal care—even if that recommendation doesn’t align with the patient’s desires or needs. AMA President Dr. Susan Bailey sees the Trump administration rule as a matter of free speech and medical ethics.
“The patient-physician relationship is the cornerstone of good medical care, and patients must be able to believe and completely trust that their physicians are giving them all of their options, and that communication is not being blocked in any way... It is frankly against our code of medical ethics.”
Although rules have long prohibited the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, these attempts to gut Title X are clearly an attempt to limit access to abortion, birth control, and other essential reproductive health services.
“Title X has contributed to a 30-year low in unintended pregnancies,” said Bailey. “We can’t afford to walk away from that progress.”