Hold medical conferences in states where abortion is legal

After Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, patients seeking abortion care traveled to states where the practice was still legal. Some physicians say medical groups should do the same when planning conferences.

“In response to a new and potentially hazardous clinical environment … professional societies should not sponsor professional conferences in states that severely restrict access to abortion services,” authors Cary Gross, MD, a professor at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.; Ezekiel Emanuel, PhD, MD, an oncologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia; and Katherine Kraschel, a health law and policy expert at the Yale School of Law, argue in a viewpoint piece published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

One of the arguments they make is that physicians who have practiced abortion care could potentially be prosecuted in certain states if they must travel for conferences. 

“It could be argued that considering state abortion laws when selecting meeting locations risks [politicizing] the role of professional societies. Healthcare societies, however, are already political actors, spending millions of dollars lobbying Congress annually. Moreover, abortion is already a political issue,” they write. “Rather than shying away from advocating for patients, medical societies should frame their efforts in the context of health and healthcare systems to ensure that abortion care is not marginalized in healthcare.”

On top of that, selecting meeting sites in locations that uphold “core values of the medical profession,” such as supporting patients’ well-being and access to vital care services, reflects better on the profession, they argue. They note this practice should follow the International AIDS Conference, which was not held in the U.S. until 2012 in protest of a ban on visas for individuals with HIV. 

Additionally, the authors argue that these groups should essentially vote with their money. The economic benefits brought to the locations hosting conferences should be taken into consideration and align with ethical consumerism.

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