ABA opposes proposal to ban abortion counseling and referrals at clinics that receive federal funds
The ABA is opposing a proposed rule that would generally ban family planning clinics that receive federal funds from providing abortion counseling and referrals.
The ABA submitted its comments in a July 30 letter to the Department of Health and Human Services.
“The physician-patient relationship should be first and foremost grounded in trust and should remain above the fray of politics,” the letter said. “As part of that trust, patients should expect that their health care providers will discharge their obligations to provide complete and accurate information about treatment options and about the benefits and risks of each option, even when the providers do not offer such treatment themselves.”
The agency says the proposed regulations are consistent with a federal ban on using Title X funds to encourage or promote abortion as a method of family planning.
The proposed regulations would ban abortion referrals “as a method of family planning,” with one limited exception. When a woman affirmatively says she has decided to have an abortion and asks for a referral, doctors may provide a list of prenatal service providers, some of which provide abortions. The list can’t specify which of the prenatal providers offer abortions, however.
Another proposed regulation would eliminate the current requirement that the clinics make available information on abortion along with information on prenatal care, infant care, foster care and adoption.
The ABA adopted policy in 1991 that supported legislation to ensure the right of family planning patients to receive full counseling and referrals on medical options related to pregnancy, according to the ABA letter. The policy also supported the right of healthcare professionals to advise their patients according to their best medical judgment and ethics.
The ABA affirmed and expanded the 1991 policy in 2005. The new policy opposed government policies that interfere with patients’ ability to receive information needed to make fully informed healthcare decisions.
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