In a speech over the weekend, the head of the American Medical Association cited lies aimed at doctors about abortion, gender-affirming care and threats against doctors.
Jack Resneck Jr., president of the American Medical Association, attacked what he described as relentless misinformation and government interference in health care.
He listed ongoing battles over abortion restrictions following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, particularly the enactment of several laws that he says make it increasingly unclear what doctors can do in emergency situations. He also cited harassment of doctors providing gender-affirming care and lack of action to address gun violence.
Speaking before the WADA House of Delegates in Honolulu, Resneck said, “Enough is enough.”
“We cannot allow doctors or our patients to become pawns of these lies,” he said.
The AMA is a nonpartisan agency and that will not change, Resneck said. But he said the AMA would not turn a blind eye to misinformation and attacks that increase physician burnout.
“Make no mistake about it,” Resneck said. “When politicians insert themselves into our examination rooms to interfere with the patient-doctor relationship…when they deeply politicize personal health care decisions or criminalize evidence-based care…we will not back down.
“We will always stand up for our policies…for doctors…and for our patients,” he said.
While some state abortion-restricting laws allow procedures to save the patient’s life or avoid serious health complications, some laws confuse doctors and pressure them to consult with an attorney before providing care. Legal battles continue at the state level over what doctors can do in emergency situations.
Resneck also pushed back against a campaign claiming doctors are exaggerating accounts of patients having ectopic pregnancies, complications after miscarriages or being denied typical treatment.
“I never imagined colleagues would find themselves hounding hospital lawyers before performing urgent abortions, when minutes count… asking if a 30% chance of maternal death or impending kidney failure meets the criteria state exemption…or if they have to wait one for longer, until their pregnant patient gets even sicker,” Resneck said.
“In some cases, unstable patients are packed into ambulances and shipped across state lines for treatment,” he added.
The AMA has filed briefs in state and federal courts and argued its case before President Biden’s administration and in congressional hearings.
“But I can’t explain how dangerous it is for doctors to know that governors, legislators, state attorneys general and law enforcement are all perched on their shoulders in exam rooms, waiting to judge the decisions we make in partnership with our patients. ,” he said. “There are a lot of people with all these people thronging our exam rooms!”
“We did not choose this political fight…but we will stand up for our patients, the policies of this House and our profession.”
Resneck also spoke about attacks targeting doctors and hospitals that provide gender-affirming care, such as threats against Boston Children’s Hospital that have drawn national attention. He said the lies obscure doctors’ ability to care for transgender patients, citing misinformation such as doctors not involving families in healthcare decisions.
The AMA, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Association of Children’s Hospitals have sent a joint letter asking US Attorney General Merrick Garland to stop the mounting threats and violence against doctors, hospitals and families for providing and seeking gender-affirming health care. Resneck mocked those who equated this with a call for censorship.
“It’s just plain wrong, but it’s part of an effort to criminalize gender-affirming care,” Resneck said. “Physicians understand the evidence that this, along with reducing stigma and discrimination in the community, reduces depression and suicide risk in transgender or non-binary adolescents.”
The AMA also announced on Monday that it had formed a task force focused on preventing gun violence, including gun suicide. Healthcare workers have demanded greater protections amid growing violence in hospitals, as seen last month in the fatal shooting of a nurse and social worker at a Dallas hospital .
“In movie theaters, places of worship, hospitals, big cities and small towns, gun violence has shattered all sense of safety and cost lives,” Resneck said in a statement.
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