The AMA was founded in part to establish the first national code of medical ethics. Today the Code is widely recognized as authoritative ethics guidance for physicians through its Principles of Medical Ethics interpreted in Opinions of AMA’s Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs that address the evolving challenges of contemporary practice.
Abortion is a safe and common medical procedure, about which thoughtful individuals hold diverging, yet equally deeply held and well-considered perspectives. Like all health care decisions, a decision to terminate a pregnancy should be made privately within the relationship of trust between patient and physician in keeping with the patient’s unique values and needs and the physician’s best professional judgment.
The Principles of Medical Ethics of the AMA permit physicians to perform abortions in keeping with good medical practice
Preserving opportunity for physicians to act (or to refrain from acting) in accordance with the dictates of conscience is important for preserving the integrity of the medical profession as well as the integrity of the individual physician; Physicians’ freedom to act according to conscience is not unlimited; They are expected to provide care in emergencies, honor patients’ informed decisions to refuse life-sustaining treatment, respect basic civil liberties and not discriminate against patients on the basis of arbitrary characteristics.
Physicians should engage patients whose capacity is impaired in decisions involving their own care to the greatest extent possible, including when the patient has previously designated a surrogate to make decisions on his or her behalf.
Physicians may ethically provide genetic testing to inform reproductive decision making when the patient requests, but may also wish to offer broad screening to all persons who are considering having a child.