October 26, 2022
ASA House of Delegates Comment on Dobbs SCOTUS Decision
The American Society of Anesthesiologists is a 56,000-member organization committed to the specialty of anesthesiology, the practice of perioperative medicine, patient safety, and the support of the practicing anesthesiologist. The recent Supreme Court decision which returned the question of the legality of abortion back to the individual states has impacted the patients for whom we provide care and the anesthesiologists who provide this care. The American Society of Anesthesiologists believes firmly in the following principles that the individual states must consider as they work to update and create laws related to this controversial issue.
- The doctor-patient relationship is the bedrock on which safe and ethical medical care is provided. Decision-making between a physician and a patient must be private and specific to the patient’s conditions. Government interference in this relationship is at odds with the ethical and legal responsibilities that physicians have toward their patients.
- No government entity should criminalize the evidence-based medical advice provided by a physician to a patient within the doctor-patient relationship. Doing so interferes with the freedoms of speech that both the physician and the patient possess under our constitution.
- Termination of pregnancy occurring because of fetal nonviability is an important component of safe maternal care. Non-viable pregnancies place the life of the pregnant patient at risk and physicians have a duty to apply all avenues of care to protect and save a mother’s life. Similarly, in women with severe chronic disease, when continuation of pregnancy substantially increases the risk to the mother there exists a moral imperative to preserve the life of the mother.
In summary, the American Society of Anesthesiologists urges state legislatures to refrain from mandating health care decisions that are best made by individuals and their doctors. One of the founding principles of our country is that individuals, not government, decide what is best for themselves and their families.