OMA Joins AMA Suit to Defend Patient-Provider Relationship


Federal ‘Gag Order’ Would put Vulnerable Title X Patients at Risk


March 6, 2019—Yesterday, on March 5, 2019, the Oregon Medical Association (OMA) joined the American Medical Association (AMA) in filing a lawsuit to block the Trump Administration’s rule that would decimate the Title X program and limit the medical advice providers can give their Title X patients. 

Plaintiffs include the AMA, the OMA, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Planned Parenthood of Southwestern Oregon, and Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette.

Filed in the United States District Court, District of Oregon, in Eugene, the lawsuit asks the court to immediately block the new rule. The AMA contends the rule would violate patients’ rights under the Code of Medical Ethics, would force doctors to violate their obligation to give honest and informed advice, and would harm millions of patients who rely on Title X for their reproductive health. 

“The Oregon medical community is deeply troubled by government rules that intrude on the practice of medicine and the provider-patient relationship,” said Fred Williams, MD, President of the 8,000-member OMA. “This rule sets a dangerous precedent and its impact on Title X will put vulnerable patients at risk.”

Congress created the Title X program to ensure that all people—especially low-income women—have access to healthcare for family planning. The lawsuit argues the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ proposed rule “blesses biased and incomplete pregnancy counseling where the interests of the patient are no longer paramount.” The rule directs physicians and other providers such as physician assistants to tell pregnant patients about only some of their reproductive health care options while withholding information about others.

“Title X has allowed the provision of quality contraceptive and pregnancy care to millions of women who are financially struggling,” said Williams. “An irreplaceable part of this care consists of providing competent and complete medical information about all of the options available, and this rule imposes a gag order on physicians fulfilling their roles as trusted consultants in reproductive health.” 

“As physicians, it is our obligation and privilege to provide patients with medical information in their best interests,” said OMA Executive Committee member Heidi Beery, MD.

“I practice medicine in a more rural part of the state," Beery added, "and if we lose this funding in my area, it will limit access for our most vulnerable populations. Patients deserve to access care in the communities in which they live.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Marianne Parshley, MD, OMA Vice President.

“The provider-patient relationship is fundamental,” said Parshley. “The OMA cannot endorse policies that would curtail open communication between patient and provider.”

v2 2016