Doctors sue North Dakota for forcing them to give patients 'patently false' information


North Dakota wants to make doctors tell their patients about a procedure 'wholly unsupported' by medical evidence.

The American Medical Association (AMA) thinks doctors shouldn't be forced to lie to their patients.

That's why the country's largest association of physicians just sued the state of North Dakota over the state's newly passed anti-choice law. It requires doctors to tell patients that a medication abortion may be reversible.

Physicians don't want to tell their patients that for one big reason: It's an outright lie.

As the AMA said in their lawsuit, the claim medication abortions can be reversed is "wholly unsupported by the best, most reliable scientific evidence."

Only one doctor in North Dakota has tried the method North Dakota now wants to impose on all doctors. The proposed method requires doctors to deliver a large dose of hormones that some studies show could result in birth defects in the near-impossible event the abortion was reversed.

It isn't just that doctors don't want to give their patients incorrect information. It's an ethical violation for them to do so and, as the AMA put it, it "undermine[s] the establishment of a relationship of trust and confidence between a patient and her physician."

It's also an ethical violation for doctors to expose their patients to possible side effects from an "unverified medical procedure" such as abortion reversal.

The AMA is also suing over a related law in North Dakota that would require them to tell patients, as part of the "informed consent" process, that choosing to have an abortion procedure "will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being."

That has nothing to do with informed consent in the medical sense. That sort of informed consent is about letting patients know the possible risks of procedures. Requiring doctors to convey North Dakota's conservative view on abortion ends up "compelling medical providers to convey a controversial and ideological message about fetal personhood that is unmoored from medical science."

In the past, the AMA has been less politically active when it comes to abortion. Now that the new laws force doctors to lie to their patients, said AMA President Patrice Harris, that was putting doctors in a place where "we are required by law to commit an ethical violation."

Doctors shouldn't be forced to deliver North Dakota's conservative, unethical, anti-science rhetoric. If they prevail in this lawsuit, they won't have to.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.