ACOG Amicus Brief Supports Case Against Mississippi Abortion Ban

Heidi Splete

September 27, 2021

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), took a prominent stand in the battle over abortion legislation by filing an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, according to a statement from ACOG issued on Sept. 21.

The case, filed by Thomas E. Dobbs, MD, state health officer of the Mississippi Department of Health, and others, challenges the attempt by the state of Mississippi to ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The case is being brought specifically against the Jackson (Miss.) Women's Health Organization.

ACOG's amicus brief, which was signed by 24 additional medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, "represents an unprecedented level of support from a diverse group of physicians, nurses, and other health care professionals, which demonstrates the concrete medical consensus of opposition to abortion restriction legislation such as the law at the heart of Dobbs v. Jackson," according to the ACOG statement.

The brief explains how the ban goes against not only the ability of health professionals to provide safe and essential care, but also goes against scientific evidence and medical ethics. "By preventing clinicians from providing patients with necessary medical care, the ban represents gross interference in the patient-clinician relationship," according to the ACOG brief.

Potential implications if the ban is upheld include health risks to pregnant women at or near 15 weeks' gestation, who might be forced to travel out of state, attempt self-induced abortion, or carry a pregnancy to term, according to the brief.

"Each of these outcomes increases the likelihood of negative consequences to a woman's physical and psychological health that could be avoided if care were available," according to the brief.

The brief also emphasizes that the ban will have a disproportionate effect on women who are already at risk for being medically underserved and who make up a majority of women seeking abortion: women of color, women in rural areas, and women with limited financial resources.

"This law is an example of harmful legislative interference into the practice of medicine," said ACOG President J. Martin Tucker, MD, FACOG, on behalf of ACOG, in the statement.

"The outcome of this case could overturn decades of legal precedent that safeguards safe, legal abortion before viability, and the consequences of this case have national implications," said Maureen G. Phipps, MD, MPH, CEO of ACOG, in an interview, as reported by ACOG press person Kate Connors.

"If the court does not strike down this law, clinicians in states across the country may face similar restrictions in their ability to provide necessary, evidence-based medical care," Phipps explained. "If states are allowed to create new laws that further restrict abortion access, patients and families across the country will suffer," she said.

"We hope that the Supreme Court will respond to the arguments of our brief and to the remarkable medical consensus represented by 25 organization signing the brief," Phipps said. "We will continue educating and working through the judicial system in support of our patients' access to evidence-based care and in opposition to legislative interference in the practice of medicine," she emphasized.

Other medical organizations that signed the brief in support of the case against the Mississippi abortion ban included the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of Family Physicians, the American College of Nurse Midwives, the American College of Physicians, the American Psychological Association, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, the American Medical Women's Association, the Council of University Chairs of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health, the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, the Society of OB/GYN Hospitalists, and the Society of Family Planning.

This article originally appeared on, part of the Medscape Professional Network.


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