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American Academy of Pediatrics Statement on the ‘Grave Consequences’ of Forcing Children to Give Birth

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In June 2022, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement about the "grave consequences" of forcing children to give birth in response to the then-recent Dobbs v. Jackson decision.

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After the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade — effectively reversing the decades-old landmark decision recognizing the right to an abortion — an Imgur account shared a screenshot of a tweet referencing a statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding abortion access:

Tweeted on June 25 2022, it read:

Of all the devastating things I read yesterday [June 24 2022], the one that will stick with me longest is the American Academy of Pediatrics having to release a statement about the grave consequences of forcing children to give birth.

Dobbs v. Jackson held in part:

We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely—the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. That provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such right must be “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” and “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty” … The inescapable conclusion is that a right to abortion is not deeply rooted in the Nation’s history and traditions. On the contrary, an unbroken tradition of prohibiting abortion on pain of criminal punishment persisted from the earliest days of the common law until 1973.

The June 25 2022 tweet referenced a statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on the “grave consequences” of Dobbs v. Jackson on pediatric patients around abortion access. In actuality, the AAP issued two statements in response to Dobbs on June 24 2022.

One was titled, “AAP Supports Adolescents’ Right to Comprehensive, Confidential Reproductive Health Care,” and it began:

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reaffirms its support for adolescents to receive comprehensive, evidence-based reproductive healthcare services, including abortion, within two updated policy statements approved for publication.

Updates to the statements, “Options Counseling for the Pregnant Adolescent Patient,” and “The Adolescent’s Right to Confidential Care When Considering Abortion,” were already underway as part of AAP’s 5-year policy renewal process. AAP published the statements now to help inform conversations around the anticipated Supreme Court decision that could impact Roe v. Wade and abortion rights.

“Everyone – including teenagers — deserves the right to confidential medical care that best supports their own needs and is informed by their physician’s expertise,” said Elise D. Berlan, MD, MPH, FAAP, co-author of both policy statements, written by the AAP Committee on Adolescence.

“Teenagers need accurate information about their reproductive health options, as well as other vital services like comprehensive sex education and contraception. AAP is concerned that attempts to limit abortion care will not only interfere with the adolescents’ trusting, confidential relationship with their physician, but could result in real psychological and physical harm. Any delays in healthcare can increase volatility within a family, limit pregnancy options, or cause someone to seek an unsafe abortion.”

In that statement, the AAP described “real psychological and physical harm” as a matter of concern to the organization. A second statement was titled “AAP Statement on Supreme Court Decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization,” and it specifically contained the “grave consequences” phrasing:

“[June 24 2022]’s Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade means that the once Constitutionally protected right to access an abortion is no longer guaranteed nationwide. This decision carries grave consequences for our adolescent patients, who already face many more barriers than adults in accessing comprehensive reproductive healthcare services and abortion care.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) this morning reaffirmed our longstanding policy supporting adolescents’ right to access comprehensive, evidence-based reproductive healthcare services, including abortion. Today’s ruling means that in many places in the United States, this evidence-based care will be difficult or impossible to access, threatening the health and safety of our patients and jeopardizing the patient-physician relationship.

“In the wake of this ruling, the AAP will continue to support our chapters as states consider policies affecting access to abortion care, and pediatricians will continue to support our patients.”

In a viral June 25 2022 tweet, a Twitter user posted that of “all the devastating things” they read the previous day, “the one that will stick with me longest is the American Academy of Pediatrics having to release a statement about the grave consequences of forcing children to give birth.” In a June 24 2022 statement, the AAP issued two news releases on Dobbs v. Jackson. The second of two stated that the decision carried “grave consequences for [their] adolescent patients.”