Reproductive Decisions

The American Academy of Family Physicians believes physicians should seek to, through extensive patient education and counseling, decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies. However, should a woman become pregnant, it is her legal right to make reproductive decisions.

The AAFP endorses the concept that abortion should be performed only by a duly-licensed physician in conformance with standards of good medical practice as determined by the laws and regulations governing the practice of medicine in that locale.

No physician shall be compelled to perform any act which violates his/her good judgment or personally held moral principles. In these circumstances, the physician may withdraw from the case so long as the withdrawal is consistent with good medical practice.

The woman considering an elective abortion should be informed adequately of the potential health risks of both abortion and continued pregnancy. The physician also should provide to the pregnant patient either:

  1. Information regarding:
    1. financial and other assistance available to her;
    2. financial and other assistance available to a child; and
    3. the availability of licensed and/or regulated adoption agencies should she choose -not to keep the infant(s); and
    4. the availability of safe, legal abortion services (as illegal abortions are known to be associated with significant maternal morbidity and mortality) should she choose not to continue the pregnancy; OR
  2. Identify resources where such information can be obtained.

(1989) (2011 COD)