The American Medical Association has been trying to give abortion providers medical, moral, and legal direction since Roe v. Wade was overturned. “At this point,” AMA president Jack Resneck told the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday, “we have more questions than answers.”
Rep. Dianne DeGette (D-CO) chaired the hearing, which heard testimony from three physicians, two abortion advocates, and a law professor.
“Abortion belongs in the hands of people who have them … not in the hands of politicians who had to gerrymander their districts beyond recognition and suppress our votes to remain in power,” Renee Bracey Sherman said. Now the CEO of We Testify, which strengthens abortion storytelling visibility, Bracey Sherman told committee members about the abortion she had at 19.
Minority witness Christina Francis, CEO-elect of the American Association of Prolife Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said abortions do not qualify as “actual healthcare.” The AMA president disagreed.
“The foundation of the patient-physician relationship relies upon honest, open communication and trust, which is undermined by substituting lawmakers’ views for a physician’s expert medical judgment,” Resneck told the subcommittee. Legislation that bars doctors from providing necessary, he continued, is a breach of the most basic aspects of medicine.
Two main points were emphasized in Resneck’s testimony. The first was that abortion is a private decision that should be made between a pregnant person and their physician. The second was that abortion bans eliminate safe abortions, not all abortions; barriers to reproductive healthcare will cost lives.
When asked by Rep. Billy Long (R-MO) how she defines a successful abortion, Francis pointed toward “failed abortions.” She wanted pregnant mothers to know that if they had an abortion “their child [may be] born alive.” The phrase “born alive” is not a medical term; it was introduced by lawmakers seeking to politicize abortion. Less than one percent of abortions are performed after the 23-week viability line, according to the CDC. They do not publish data on abortions resulting in live births, indicating occurrence is statistically insignificant.
“A successful abortion is when someone is no longer pregnant because they don’t want to be,” Bracey Sherman countered.
The AMA has been fielding physicians’ questions about the care they are able to provide amidst changing and ambiguous laws. The organization nodded to the Department of Health’s clarification “that EMTALA would preempt conflicting state law and be a defense for criminal prosecutions,” under the direction of Biden’s executive order two weeks ago. Yet Resneck maintained that many uncertainties remain.