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Doctor explaining diagnosis to her female patient. Photo taken on: July 21st, 2012

Most medical providers have basically been on the sidelines in the big reproductive healthcare fight of the modern era—abortion. Maybe because it's too politically charged for them to really engage in, since fewer and fewer providers are actually involved in providing that critical service, or it just hasn't seemed relevant to their professional lives. But now the Supreme Court has started to creep onto their territory, and they are not happy.
The 5-4 decision was immediately criticized by the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association (PDF), the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for allowing employers to meddle in the exam room.

The decision “intrudes on the patient-physician relationship and will make it more difficult for many women to make their own personal medical decisions,” said Dr. Robert Wah, president of the AMA. “We encourage the administration to provide alternative pathways to secure coverage for patients unable to obtain these services as a result of the court's ruling.”

Each of the groups urged officials in Washington to work quickly to restore coverage options for all insured women, saying that limiting insurance coverage would force women to take additional steps or pay out of pocket for birth control—which affects low-income women in particular.

As Justice Ginsburg noted in her scathing dissent, the ruling opens up the possibility for endless challenges from employers who have "religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah's Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?] … Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today's decision." That's just one of the things healthcare providers are worried about now, says Paul Keckley, managing director in the healthcare practice at Navigant. "I think it's a bigger deal than just Hobby Lobby and Conestoga, and I think this is going to follow a theme that will be carried through the next couple of years, or certainly the next two election cycles."

Maybe this ruling will be the impetus for these provider groups to recognize the threat to their free practice of medicine inherent in the Republican Party. Maybe they'll now see just how critical it is to fight for their own right to provide every kind of medical care to the women they treat.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Wed Jul 02, 2014 at 10:44 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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