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AACOM Responds to Supreme Court Decision to Overturn Roe v. Wade

June 30, 2022

As osteopathic physicians and educators who embrace a foundational philosophy of care for the mind and spirit as well as the body, we are concerned about the impact of the Supreme Court’s recent decision on women’s well-being and health. We are also concerned this could forever change the way we train new physicians and impact how they are able to care for their patients.

Many osteopathic medical schools are in states where restrictions on abortion and scrutiny of medical providers will become more common. This will affect how students learn to communicate with and treat patients. Osteopathic medical students frequently move across state lines for elective and audition rotations, meaning they will now need to learn to follow different laws depending on the jurisdiction. This reality will complicate how we prepare students, as they, along with the physician educators teaching them, navigate new terrain.

Harassment and violence have long surrounded issues related to reproductive rights. That reality shapes the practice of medicine and could potentially alter the delivery of care and education as well. Medical students already face many challenges as they earn their degree. Risk of personal harm cannot be one of them.

For both sides in the critical patient-doctor relationship, government interference is further seeping into a sacred area of trust and communication and inserting fear where it should never be. 

Regardless of where an individual falls on the issue of abortion rights, as an academic medical association we must address serious questions facing our community. Will what unfolds make our healthcare system and community-based model of education stronger or more fragile? Will disparities in access to care lead to other medical complications that we need to prepare students to treat? How might our commitment to demonstrating empathy be impacted? Will the wellbeing of physicians and learners who care for others day in and day out be affected?  

In this time of uncertainty, one thing is clear. This decision complicates a space that shouldn't be made any harder than it already is, especially during a time of severe stress and burnout for practicing clinicians, educators and learners. We care about the well-being of our students and their future patients. And we are obligated to prepare them to deliver quality healthcare for all women. With this in mind, we will turn to our roots and promote open dialogue and deep listening as we navigate the journey ahead.