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TAFP statement regarding Roe v. Wade decision

Statement by Texas Academy of Family Physicians President Mary Nguyen, MD, in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling regarding Roe v. Wade.

Like all health care, abortion is a deeply personal issue. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice or somewhere in between, today's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court will undoubtedly cause a great deal of confusion for many Texans and family physicians. While it will take time to fully understand how this ruling and existing Texas laws will affect patient care, I know family physicians will continue counseling their patients to make medical decisions together about what care is best for them.

The Supreme Court's decision to strike down Roe v. Wade ends a half-century of federal constitutional protection of abortion rights and allows each state to decide whether to restrict or ban abortion. In Texas, which already has a “trigger law” in place, that would mean a near total ban on abortion.

Last year, Texas passed House Bill 1280, which is set to take effect 30 days following the ruling. The new law will make it a second-degree felony “for a person who knowingly performs, induces, or attempts an abortion.” The penalty would increase to a first-degree felony “if the unborn child dies as a result of the offense.” The legislation makes no exceptions for rape or incest; the only exception is if a pregnancy would kill the pregnant person or severely injure them. It also adds a fine of at least $100,000 for each offense. Those fines are for people who perform abortions, not the people who are getting abortions.

The Texas Academy of Family Physicians’ guiding principle has been, and continues to be, that physicians must be able to practice medicine that is based on their years of medical education, training, experience, and the available evidence freely and without threat of punishment, harassment, or retribution. They should have the ability to perform any and all procedures they are trained to perform and are legal in their state. Additionally, patients must be able to depend on their physicians to assist them in making critical decisions about their personal health, including reproductive health.

As our nation, state, and profession navigate this uncharted territory, TAFP will be developing educational materials on legal risks our members may encounter. We will also be offering additional continuing medical education materials on long-acting, reversible contraceptives and physician-directed aftercare of patient self-managed abortions.

One thing that should be abundantly clear, which I hope we can all agree on, is this decision should be a wake-up call to our state leaders and the Legislature. They now have a moral imperative to strengthen Texas’ social safety net, to invest in foster care and adoption services, to promote comprehensive sex education, to improve access to affordable contraception, and to expand health insurance coverage to women and children who need it.

The Texas Academy of Family Physicians is the premier membership organization dedicated to uniting the family doctors of Texas through advocacy, education, and member services, and empowering them to provide a medical home for patients of all ages. It has 33 local chapters and is a chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians.