On May 15, the American Academy of Family Physicians joined the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Osteopathic Association, the American College of Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Psychiatric Association in issuing a statement on state legislative efforts to interfere with the delivery of evidence-based medicine. The AAFP, based on policy, stands opposed to legislation that criminalizes the work and efforts of physicians who provide safe, legal, and appropriate medical care.
Our six organizations are firmly opposed to efforts in state legislatures across the United States that inappropriately interfere with the patient-physician relationship, unnecessarily regulate the evidence-based practice of medicine and, in some cases, even criminalize physicians who deliver safe, legal, and necessary medical care.
Our organizations represent more than 560,000 physicians and medical students serving on the front-lines of health care. We care for patients in communities across America over the course of their lives, including when they need to make critical decisions about their futures and families. The insertion of politics between patients and their physicians undermines the foundation of trust this relationship is built on and inhibits the delivery of safe, timely, and comprehensive care. Outside interference endangers our patients’ health by limiting, and sometimes altogether eliminating, access to medically accurate information and to the full range of health care.
Physicians should never face imprisonment or other penalties for providing necessary care. These laws force physicians to decide between their patients and facing criminal proceedings.
Physicians must be able to practice medicine that is informed by their years of medical education, training, experience, and the available evidence, freely and without threat of criminal punishment.
Our health care system faces many challenges. We call on policymakers to partner with us to advance policies that protect the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship, expand access to timely, evidence-based health care, and eliminate health disparities in our nation.
Recently passed legislation in Alabama criminalizes care rendered by physicians who perform an abortion – despite this remaining a lawful medical procedure (or care in the case of a medication induced pregnancy termination). As legislation works its way through the courts, the AAFP will continue to promote and protect the patient-physician relationship from interfering laws such as the one recently passed in Alabama.