The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists opposes laws that jeopardize women’s health care and interfere with the patient-physician relationship.
We, the elected officers of the Wisconsin Section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, are extremely concerned about the ramifications of laws recently passed in Wisconsin that interfere with the patient-physician relationship.
New laws such as Act 37, which forces women to undergo medically unnecessary ultrasounds before obtaining abortion services, and which erects medically unrelated barriers to care, are not about protecting our patients’ health or safety. Instead, they are about interfering with the practice of medicine and limiting access to safe, legal care.
As women’s health care physicians, we maintain relationships with our patients throughout various stages of their lives, relationships that are based on trust and respect. It’s wrong for the government to insert itself into that relationship with no insight into a woman’s specific situations and no ability to resolve difficult human conditions.
Our members have differing views on the practice of pregnancy termination, and ACOG supports this diversity of beliefs. However, ACOG also recognizes the United States Supreme Court decision that all women must have the legal right to make personal choices with regard to a pregnancy.
ACOG opposes legislation that singles out a gynecologic procedure from any other outpatient procedure. All physicians who provide medical or surgical procedures in their clinics or ambulatory care facilities should have a plan for transferring patients to a hospital for emergency treatment in the event of a rare complication. Facility regulations should be consistent for all surgical procedures of similar low risk.
Laws that require physicians to give or withhold specific information when counseling patients, or that mandate which tests, procedures, treatment alternatives or medicines physicians can perform, prescribe or administer are ill-advised.
Doctors have an ethical duty to provide information on all treatment options for women to make an informed decision. It is not our place to judge, coerce or shame women, nor is it government’s role to do so.
Wisconsin women are strong, courageous and intelligent. They are capable of making informed, legal choices with their physicians. Women do not need — or want — any government to make medical decisions for them. The real goal should be to provide access to safe, compassionate and affordable health care and contraception to all women in our state.
Legislators must stop practicing medicine. We are ready to work with our state and local elected officials to improve health care options for women, and we look forward to collaborative dialog.
Kathy Hartke, MD, wrote this on behalf of the Executive Board of the Wisconsin Section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.