Washington, DC — Government should not interfere with the patient-physician relationship without a substantial public health justification, according to The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). In a new Statement of Policy approved by its Executive Board, ACOG states its objections to laws forcing physicians to give or withhold specific information when counseling patients or that mandate specific treatments, tests, and procedures.
ACOG recognizes that government serves a valuable role in protecting public health and safety and in the provision of essential health services. However, ACOG opposes any government interference that threatens communication between patients and their physicians or other health care providers. ACOG also objects to laws that interfere with the patient’s right to be counseled according to the best currently available evidence-based guidelines and the physician’s professional medical judgment.
“Given the relentless legislative assault on the patient-physician relationship that we’ve seen in the past few years—and unfortunately continue to see—we were compelled to issue a formal Statement of Policy,” said ACOG President Jeanne A. Conry, MD, PhD. “A disproportionate number of these types of laws are aimed at women’s reproductive rights and the physicians that provide women’s health care services.”
ACOG highlights several examples of ill-advised laws that either interfere with doctors counseling their patients or that force patients to have unnecessary tests and procedures. These include laws that prohibit physicians from speaking to their patients about firearms and gun safety; dictate a script about what must be communicated to women about breast density and cancer risk; and that require women to have unnecessary ultrasounds before an abortion.
“We are speaking out not just on behalf of ob-gyns, but for all physicians and patients,” said Dr. Conry. “Many of these laws are dangerous to patients’ health and safety. As physicians, we are obligated to offer the best evidence-based care to our patients. Government should stay out of imposing its political agenda on medical practice.”