Future Physicians Outraged Over Loss of Basic Rights

June 24, 2022
AMSA members rally on Capitol Hill

Medical students will not stay silent while our rights are stripped.

While we knew this day was coming following the SCOTUS draft leak in early May, we are still shocked and appalled by the deadly decision to overturn the landmark decision, Roe v Wade, which set the standard for reproductive rights for over 50 years. Even this standard was not enough. This decision, made by six un-elected officials, five of whom were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote, and confirmed by a Senate that is fundamentally undemocratic, waves state recognition of the full humanity, autonomy, and agency of pregnant people, and waves state recognition of the full humanity, autonomy, and agency of women, broadly. This decision puts over 75 million people of childbearing age and capacity at risk. Statistically, 1 out of 4 of women will have an abortion by age 45. Significantly, this decision will have greatest negative consequences for Black, Indigenous, and all women and pregnant people of color. AMSA vehemently condemns this decision and demands Congress do what they should have done years ago and make abortion rights federal law.

Abortion has long been a fundamental part of healthcare; an intimate decision for a patient in consultation their doctor. What right do Justices Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Coney Barrett, and Roberts have to tell women and physicians what they can and cannot do with their own bodies? The moral answer is none… whatsoever. Instead, the Supreme Court of the United States has decided that states have the power to surveille and regulate what you can do with your uterus, but not with your guns. It does not take a genius to understand that this ruling was not made on the basis of being “unconstitutional.” No. This decision is the first outcome of a concerted effort by the Republican Party, Trump, and other right-wing extremists to weaponize the Supreme Court to push their own fascist ideologies on the United States, to perpetually degrade and keep families, primarily people of color, locked into cycles of poverty. This is nothing short of an attack on the freedom of our patients to make decisions for their own health and safety and violates the human right of bodily autonomy. 

The courts do not represent the will of the people. They are an entirely undemocratic process, undermining every single one of us. The vast majority of Americans support the right to choose, just like the overwhelming majority support gun regulation, which SCOTUS had the audacity to also overturn just one month following Uvalde. Physicians on the other hand are sworn to do no harm, and we will continue to do so. 

Let’s not kid ourselves. This is as much Democrats’ fault as it is Republicans’. Democrats sat on Roe v Wade for 50 years and DID. NOT. DO. ANYTHING. They had opportunities to make abortion federal law and did not. They could have eliminated the filibuster to do so. They did not. 

Senator Manchin, Senator Collins, Senator Murkowski. This is your fault. You chose to ignore what we all knew to be true. The three judges nominated by Trump lied about their actual intent to overturn Roe and Casey. Senator Schumer, you are equally guilty by failing to act, using the power granted to you by voters, and preventing what you knew would come to pass. Thanks to your complicity, our rights have been stolen. You have put women at risk of death and increased oppression, and physicians at risk of prosecution for practicing compassionate, ethical, evidence-based healthcare.

We must get these extremists out of positions of power if we are to protect our patients. Voting is our most powerful tool to enact change, and we must mobilize to replace fascists with leaders to champion reproductive rights. This ruling marks the culmination of decades of right-wing extremists plotting to instate candidates and justices that undermine reproductive rights. 

AMSA and medical students must respond. Show up for rallies and protests, call your legislators, vote, and organize your community. We will not rest until we have justice for all people. Congress must act to legalize abortions nationally. Whether we like it or not, politics influence patient care, and we must protect our exam rooms. We are pissed off and we promise you, we will not stop defending our patients.

This is an official statement from the American Medical Student Association, written by Michael Walls. D.O., M.P.H., Anna Hindman, Nikitha Balaji, Elissa Cleland, and Peter Papaioannou.

To get involved with our work to protect the right to an abortion, visit our website and apply for our Summer Repro Health Institute or email AMSA’s president, Michael Walls, D.O., M.P.H., at pres@amsa.org.