AMWA Position Statement and Position Papers

Position Statements

AMWA develops policy statements to serve as guidance for members and staff in communicating where AMWA stands on issues of the day. We select topics that have a direct impact on women in medicine and/or the outcomes of our patients in keeping with our mission and may act as a focus for our advocacy and education efforts.

October 2023

Growing Death Toll from Firearms in the U.S.

October 26, 2023: The American Medical Women’s Association is deeply saddened by the mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine – adding to the growing death toll from firearms in the US.  As physicians and public health practitioners, we know that firearm injuries are preventable with responsible gun safety legislation. AMWA urges Congress to co-sponsor and vote for universal background checks, renewal of the assault weapon ban, and federal red flag laws. before more loved ones die unnecessarily. Our hearts are with the families of the victims, the healthcare workers, and the communities near and far struggling in the wake of this horrific shooting.

September 2023

A Government Shutdown Will Harm Patients

A government shutdown by Congress will have far reaching impacts on the healthcare of communities across the country, particularly among under-resourced communities that rely on federal aid  In addition, a shutdown would affect the infrastructure of our transportation systems, agricultural supplies, public safety, national security, and more. A recent White House analysis showed the devastating impact on the WIC program, if this were to occur. The state-by-state breakdown of the number of women, infants, and children at risk of losing critical nutrition assistance totaled more than 6.6 million.
AMWA urges Congress to find consensus on legislation that will avert a government shutdown and preserve essential funding to vital health programs providing aid to the most vulnerable. Our patients deserve no less.

Abortion Bans May Limit Treatment for Pregnancy Complications

Lawsuits in Idaho, Tennessee, and Oklahoma highlight significant gaps in the medical care of pregnant women where restrictive state bans may limit treatment for a pregnancy complications, as practitioners are fearful of violating the law. Yet we know that medicine is not a perfect science. It can be impossible to identify the exact time when a patient’s condition shifts from stable to life-threatening, at which time, an abortion might then be legal. One need only review cases presented during morbidity and mortality rounds to know that physicians can’t reliably make those predictions. As one plaintiff stated, “It’s not safe to be pregnant in Oklahoma.” These cases reinforce the fact that the question of whether an abortion should or should not be performed is not just a religious, political, or ideological question. It is a medical question.

“As a physician practicing in Tennessee, I have witnessed the immense stress my colleagues have been burdened with, trying to care for their pregnant patients while ensuring they are not breaking the law. It’s a difficult position to be placed in, to know the correct treatment for your patient but to be unable to provide evidence based, compassionate healthcare to someone having a pregnancy complication. I applaud the bravery of the physicians and patients bringing light to the heartbreaking situations they have faced and I will continue to advocate for comprehensive reproductive healthcare access in every state.” – Katrina Green, MD, Co-chair of the AMWA advocacy committee.

AMWA President, Elizabeth Garner, MD, MPH concurred. “These cases highlight the challenges that physicians face when trying to navigate the complexities of patient care within constraints of these laws, often having to make decisions that are not the standard of care and risking charges of malpractice in order to comply with the law.”

AMWA applauds President Biden’s formation of the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

We look forward to working with this new office to help prevent gun violence which is now the number one cause of death in children in the US.

June 2023

AMWA stands with the American Medical Association and Indiana University Health in support of Dr. Caitlin Bernard

The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) stands with the American Medical Association and Indiana University Health in support of Caitlin Bernard, MD, MS who provided necessary abortion care to a 10-year-old Ohio girl whose pregnancy was the result of rape. Reports and testimony show that Dr. Bernard did not violate her institution’s privacy policies, nor the policies of the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs. AMWA was honored to have Dr. Bernard as a keynote speaker at the recent AMWA Annual meeting.

May 2023

AMWA supports over the counter (OTC) progestin-only hormonal contraception and asks the FDA to approve its use

AMWA recognizes that unintended pregnancies are a major public health concern, accounting for approximately 45% of US pregnancies in 2011 (Finer 2016). Approximately 1/3 (29%) of childbearing-aged women and those capable of becoming pregnant in the United States experience difficulties obtaining hormonal contraception (Grindlay 2016).

Barriers include lack of insurance coverage, requirements for a prescription, lack of a primary healthcare provider, and constraints on time or transportation. These barriers put women at risk of unplanned pregnancies which may result in poor maternal or fetal outcomes. In the U.S., 22 states allow pharmacists to prescribe or dispense hormonal contraception (NASPA). Requirements for pharmacy access add barriers and may include consultation with the pharmacist, recording of a normal BP, and sometimes only behind the counter access. Additional barriers include age restrictions, insurance limitations or access, and pharmacists’ objection to dispense. One approach to increase accessibility is to provide over-the-counter access to hormonal contraception (Grindlay 2016). Since 2006, over the counter access to emergency contraception, a similar medication, has been available in the U.S. and many studies have noted its safety and acceptability (Chen 2011).  Over the counter birth control pills are already available over the counter in over 100 countries (Grindlay).

AMWA supports over-the-counter access to progestin-only hormonal contraception in the U.S. without a prescription to improve reproductive care of women and those capable of becoming pregnant.

-Alex Bergeron, Ann Margaret Irvin, Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, Jan Werbinski, MD on behalf of the American Medical Women’s Association.

AMWA Supports ACR Resolution on Patient-Physician Relationship

AMWA supports the resolution of the American College of Radiology (ACR) to oppose any government regulation or legislative action that would criminalize physicians and other medical imaging professionals for providing evidence-based medical care within the scope of their training, professional judgment, and nationally recognized professional practice guidelines.

April 2023

AMWA supports expanded Background Checks and an Assault Weapons ban.

The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) recognizes that gun violence is a public health crisis in the United States. AMWA supports federal legislative solutions, backed by data, including the Assault Weapons Ban of 2023, S.25/ HR. 698 and the Background Check Expansion Act, S.494/Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2023, HR.715

AMWA Opposes Texas Court Decision to Suspend Approval of Mifepristone.

The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) strongly opposes the Texas court decision in the Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine vs. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to suspend approval of #mifepristone. This ruling sets a dangerous precedent for judicial interference that undermines FDA authority to make evidence-based determinations on the safety and efficacy of medications.

Contrary to the plaintiffs arguments, mifepristone has been proven as a safe method of providing abortion care for more than 20 years as well as an invaluable treatment for miscarriage management and other indications.

Lack of access to mifepristone may increase the risk of maternal morbidity and mortality and hinder a physician’s ability to deliver evidence-based standard of care.

March 2023

AMWA Advocates for Pay Equity for All

The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) has long advocated for pay equity for all. The recent study by Payscale again documents the inequity that exists for women and BIPOC physicians and surgeons. The survey notes an inequity of $35,000/year, leading up to a projected $900,000 gap for a lifetime of employment.

Since 1915, AMWA has worked to bring equity to healthcare at all levels, for patients and for those that serve and care for them. AMWA serves a unique role in advocating for equity in compensation through mentoring, advising, and developing personal comfort when discussing financial matters. AMWA will continue to be a medical organization that advocates for health equity.

AMWA Supports Legislation to Decrease Maternal and Infant Mortality Rates

AMWA supports legislation that would help decrease maternal and infant mortality rates such as ensuring access to obstetrical care in rural and underserved areas, increased funding for maternal support services such as doulas, programs to help reduce costs of prenatal and postnatal care, and expansion of maternity and paternity leave benefits.

AMWA Supports Efforts to Expand Healthcare Access

AMWA advocates for continued access to healthcare through the Medicare program. We agree with legislation and funding for programs that expand healthcare access. View Fact Sheet.

February 2023

AMWA opposed to legal interference to prescribe approved medications including Mifepristone

AMWA is opposed to legal interference that precludes physicians’ ability to practice evidence-based medicine and to prescribe FDA-approved medications, including Mifepristone, to patients as this can lead to preventable adverse consequences.

December 2022

AMWA supports President Biden’s Call for a Ban on Assault Weapons

The American Medical Women’s Association supports President Biden’s call for a ban on assault weapons. Firearms are the number one cause of death for U.S. Children. We applaud the U.S. House of Representatives of the 117th Congress for passing life saving gun safety legislation. We call on the U.S. Senate to act on the following bills sent by the House for a vote:
  • The Assault Weapons Ban of 2022 (HR1808). This bill would limit the production, sale, and possession of assault weapons with exceptions related to law enforcement and other situations.

  • Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act of 2021 (HR2377). This bill would establish procedures for issuing federal extreme risk protection orders and funding to support the implementation of these laws.

  • Protecting Our Kids Act (HR 7910). This bill would provide for an increased age limit on the purchase of certain firearms, prevent gun trafficking, modernize the prohibition on untraceable firearms, encourage the safe storage of firearms, and other purposes.

October 2022

AMWA Affirms Importance of Nutrition to Good Health

AMWA understands the impact of nutrition on health and disease and the role of food as medicine in the care of patients. AMWA commits to incorporating healthy nutrition into AMWA conferences and promoting this education in all AMWA branches. We will advocate for clinical curricula that addresses nutritional issues and the barriers posed by social and structural determinant of health.

AMWA Stands with Women and Girls in Iran

As a longstanding champion of gender equality, the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) categorically condemns the targeting of peaceful protesters in Iran who are demanding equal rights and basic human rights.  We support the right of all people to live safely and free from fear, and stand with women and girls in Iran.

AMWA Supports HHS Revisions to the Affordable Care Act that Codify Protections for LGBTQ+ People

The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) supports the US Department of Health and Human Services adopting revisions to Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act that codify protections for LGBTQ+ people from mistreatment by physicians, other clinicians, and insurers. Adopting this rule will restore and strengthen protections for LGBTQ+ people by clarifying that the definition of “sex” discrimination applies to discrimination based on sex characteristics, intersex traits, and pregnancy and pregnancy termination, and aligns with federal court decisions prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.  AMWA urges adoption of these crucial protections.

September 2022

AMWA Stands with Physicians Performing Abortion Services in the Wake of Roe Being Overturned

Since the United States Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade, physicians and their patients have faced growing uncertainty regarding how rapidly evolving state laws affect care of people in need of abortion services. AMWA is gravely concerned about the legal and administrative vulnerability physicians face amid the ever-changing patchwork of abortion laws and limitations particularly when such laws are intentionally confusing and designed to criminalize care and punish physicians whose goal is to provide appropriate patient care.

AMWA has always upheld the right to reproductive healthcare services on behalf of both patients and physicians. Current events have put that right in very real peril, endangering patients and physicians, legally, physically, emotionally and otherwise. AMWA fully supports physicians who are putting forth their best effort to provide abortion care that complies with current, albeit sometimes convoluted and harmful legal standards, some of which seek to punish them for doing their duty as physicians.

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AMWA Opposes a National Ban on Abortion After 15 Weeks

The proposed national ban on abortion after 15 weeks is not based on medical science and introduces intrusion into the patient-physician relationship. Discussions about the risks of pregnancy, labor and delivery, and care during pregnancy should be between the physician/clinician and the patient. Legislating medical care violates shared medical decision making and undermines the science that leads to appropriate medical care. The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) ardently opposes the legislation of health care, including abortion and other reproductive care.

August 2022

AMWA Opposes Legislative Limits to Abortion

The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) is dedicated to the advancement of reproductive health and supports access to safe and legal abortion as part of comprehensive reproductive health care for all. We oppose legislation that limits access to abortion, such as that recently passed in Indiana. AMWA will continue to work to ensure that women have full access to reproductive care and that physicians are trained and supported to provide timely care according to the needs of their patients.

AMWA Applauds the U.S. Senate Passage of The Inflation Reduction Act

The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) applauds the US Senate’s passage of The Inflation Reduction Act, which includes important prescription drug pricing reforms, funding efforts to reduce climate change, and extends subsidies for millions of Americans receiving care through insurance exchanges established through the Affordable Care Act. We call on the House of Representatives to pass this bill and for the President to sign it into law.

July 2022

AMWA Endorses Presidential Executive Order to Protect Reproductive Rights

The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) supports the efforts made by President Biden to protect access to reproductive health services announced in an Executive Order today. In particular, AMWA upholds the commitment to safeguard reproductive rights, specifically to:

  • Protect access to FDA-approved medication abortion Ensure that patients are able to receive emergency medical care related to pregnancy and miscarriage
  • Enable interstate travel to attain abortion care and maintain access to contraception
  • Protect the privacy of an individual’s health information, including reproductive health information

The Executive Order addresses the need to protect digital health privacy so that sensitive individual health information is not sold to data brokers. AMWA supports all efforts aimed at protecting personal medical privacy as a cornerstone of the invaluable physician-patient relationship.    As with most medical decisions, reproductive health matters, including abortion, are complex and nuanced, necessitating considerations by the patient in consultation with their physician without legislative interference.

AMWA endorses efforts to provide better protective measures that assure physicians are able to practice evidence-based medicine and deliver the most appropriate and necessary care possible. AMWA commends this Executive Order as an important step toward securing physicians’ ability to deliver reproductive-related care without fear of legal repercussions. And, to support patients’ rights to receive desired and necessary reproductive medical care.

AMWA champions these measures that uphold our mission to assure that quality healthcare, including abortion, is accessible and available to all.

— Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, Nell Mermin-Bunnell, Isabella Mellits Lopez, Connie Newman, MD on behalf of the American Medical Women’s Association

May 2022

AMWA Grieves Horrific Mass Shootings

The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) grieves the horrific mass shooting of Black shoppers in Buffalo, NY on May 14 which was motivated by racism and hatred. We join people across the country in calling for racism to be addressed as a public health emergency by the federal government. Additional mass shootings over the same weekend in California and Houston highlight the need for the swift adoption of common sense firearms legislation across the country.

AMWA Continues to Support Reproductive Rights for All Including Access to Safe and Legal Abortions

The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) has advocated for comprehensive reproductive health throughout its history and remains committed to supporting reproductive rights for all patients, including access to safe and legal abortions.

Studies have shown that one in four U.S. women aged 15 to 44 years will have an abortion by age 45 years, and yet more than half of U.S. women of reproductive age currently live in states that have demonstrated hostility towards abortion care.  If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the result will be a cascade of abortion bans across the country that will worsen access to abortion and endanger the physical and mental health of pregnant people.

Limiting legal access to abortion does not lower the rate of abortions, it makes abortions less safe for the people that have them. A robust body of literature supports that access to comprehensive reproductive health services is essential to overall health. Legislation restricting access to reproductive health services without valid medical justification jeopardizes health. Decisions on pregnancy care, including abortion, are best left to the patient and the physician. The considerations may include, for example, maternal physical and mental health, fetal anomalies, and the use of teratogenic medications. We, as physicians, must ensure that appropriate medical care, including access to abortion, is available to all.

AMWA acknowledges that access to abortion is part of comprehensive reproductive health care. Any decision about abortion care should be made in consultation with a clinician and within the context of respect for bodily autonomy. AMWA opposes any legislative barriers that would limit or criminalize clinicians in counseling their patients on medically appropriate care. Many of the proposed laws include misinformation and disinformation about abortion care. Appropriate public education is needed to counter these widespread and dangerous misstatements.

AMWA will always advocate for reproductive health access, including access to safe and legal abortions.

AMWA Supports Access to Safe and Legal Abortion

As an organization dedicated to the advancement of reproductive health, the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) supports access to safe and legal abortion as part of comprehensive reproductive health care for all.

March 2022

AMWA Applauds Reauthorization of VAWA

This week the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) 2022 was signed into law and reauthorized through 2027. This bipartisan legislation includes new requirements to increase access to VAWA-funded programs and improve responsiveness to the needs of survivors. The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) champions the reauthorization of the VAWA.

In 2018, VAWA lapsed, and efforts to reauthorize VAWA in 2019 were unsuccessful due to strong opposition to efforts to close the “boyfriend loophole” that would extend the restriction on perpetrators’ ability to purchase firearms after conviction to include current and former dating partners. VAWA 2022 does not address this, and until federal legislation does so, AMWA hopes to see state enact laws to close this loophole.

Until there is permanent funding for life-saving programs and services for survivors and victims of so-called domestic abuse, AWMA advocates that the next VAWA reauthorization be revised to close persistent gaps in protection, service accessibility, and enforcement.

Standing with Ukrainians

The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) has a vision of a healthier world, and consequently, we categorically condemn the targeting of Ukrainian civilians and healthcare facilities by Russian military forces. We support the right of all people to live safely and free from fear.

Access to Gender-Affirming Healthcare & Education

The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) has a mission to advocate for equity and a vision of a healthier world and believes that all patients should have access to medical treatment and health education, including gender-affirming care. We strongly oppose the interference of government in the patient-clinician relationship and evidence-based medical decision-making. Research has shown that providing gender-affirming care improves physical and mental health. As such, we condemn legislative efforts that seek to criminalize those participating in that care.

AMWA Calls for Halt to the Use of “Excited Delirium” as a Medical Diagnosis

The American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) advocates for equity and the equitable treatment of all people. We strongly oppose the use of so-called “excited delirium,” which is not a validated medical diagnosis or condition  as an indication or justification for the use of excessive force or chemical sedation by law enforcement or others. We oppose the use of psychoactive agents in agitated or otherwise distressed people in a community or law enforcement setting without a valid medical reason due to the risks these pose in non-clinical settings and the inequitable ways in which they have been used. “Excited delirium” and its resulting inequitable and often violent management violate human rights and AMWA calls for law enforcement to immediately discontinue this practice. [/toggle][/toggles]