AFT Resolution

Support Healthcare Workers and Patients Impacted by Abortion Bans

WHEREAS, a broad array of health professionals, including doctors, advanced practice nurses, registered nurses, techs and pharmacists are on the frontlines of providing reproductive healthcare, which centers them in our nation’s abortion debate; and

WHEREAS, a healthcare worker’s right to educate and counsel patients about their health, free of political influence, is essential for public health, high-quality reproductive healthcare, and for patients to make decisions about their own care; and

WHEREAS, as a leading and quickly growing healthcare union, the American Federation of Teachers is uniquely positioned to advocate for reproductive rights from the perspective of clinicians and providers delivering care; and

WHEREAS, anti-abortion legislation is a politically motivated intrusion on the relationship between a patient and their care team, and all people have a right to access the full spectrum of reproductive healthcare and make their own decisions about family planning; and

WHEREAS, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, lawmakers in 25 states around the country have proposed or passed legislation either restricting or banning abortion access,[1] or criminalizing the provision of some aspects of reproductive healthcare, thereby putting access to all reproductive and maternal care at risk, endangering pregnant patients, women and families as well as the healthcare professionals serving them; and

WHEREAS, nearly one-third of American women live in a state with an abortion ban;[2] and

WHEREAS, medication abortion accounts for more than half of all abortions in the United States,[3] and more than 100 scientific studies over 30 years have concluded that the two-drug protocol of misoprostol and mifepristone is a safe and effective way to terminate a pregnancy, leading experts to say these drugs are safer than Tylenol,[4] yet the ongoing Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA lawsuit threatens to overturn FDA approval of mifepristone, a drug commonly used alongside misoprostol for medication abortion up to 10 weeks of pregnancy[5] and have potentially far-reaching effects on FDA’s authority to approve medications; and

WHEREAS, communities with less access to full-spectrum reproductive healthcare experience higher rates of maternal mortality,[6] and maternal death rates increased nearly twice as fast in states with abortion restrictions between 2018 and 2020, and maternal death rates were 62 percent higher in abortion-restriction states than in abortion-access states in 2020;[7] and

WHEREAS, states with abortion bans have already seen more than a 10 percent decrease in applications for OB/GYN residency;[8] and

WHEREAS, in 2020 the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. was the highest it has been since 1965, disproportionately impacting Black patients who were 2.6 times more likely to suffer maternal mortality than white patients;[9] and

WHEREAS, about half of rural community hospitals do not provide obstetrics care,[10] and, for example, in March 2023, a rural Idaho hospital closed its labor and delivery services specifically citing problems retaining OB/GYN and pediatric physicians due to the state’s new abortion restrictions. This service closure leaves the local community nearly 50 miles away from the nearest labor and delivery care;[11] and

WHEREAS, labor and delivery service closures and rural hospital closures caused by abortion restrictions may have the unintended consequence of decreasing and delaying access to prenatal care; and

WHEREAS, no healthcare professional should fear that providing necessary care could jeopardize their job or professional license, and healthcare professionals leaving professional practice in states with abortion bans and restrictions may create or exacerbate health professional shortages; and

WHEREAS, it is crucial for community health that education programs for health professionals include training in the full spectrum of maternal and reproductive healthcare, including abortion; and

WHEREAS, due to existing conditions of understaffing and corporatization of healthcare, clinicians are experiencing significant rates of moral injury. Further restrictions standing between clinicians and providing the care their patients deserve will exacerbate this:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers affirms the right of all healthcare professionals to provide ethical medical care based on a patient’s well-being and not motivated by politics, and the right of all patients to access the full scope of reproductive healthcare; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT reaffirms support for safe and legal abortion access and the right of all patients to access the full scope of reproductive healthcare and to make their own family-planning decisions; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT supports the professional judgment of healthcare professionals, not politicians or legislators, in delivering the high-quality care that patients deserve; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT works to ensure ongoing access to medication abortion throughout the nation by working with lawmakers, candidates, advocacy groups and activists to support legislative efforts and executive actions at the state and federal levels; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT supports medical education programs training providers in the full spectrum of reproductive healthcare, including abortion; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT affirms the essential and central role of healthcare professionals in healthcare advocacy and commits to amplifying the voices of healthcare professionals speaking out about the real-world harm to patients and clinicians caused by politically motivated abortion bans.

Adopted June 1, 2023


[1] Kaiser Family Foundation, “Status of Abortion Bans in the United States as of March 22, 2023.”

[2] Guttmacher Institute, “Six Months Post-Roe, 24 US States Have Banned Abortion or Are Likely to Do So: A Roundup.” Jan. 10, 2023.

[3] Guttmacher Institute, “Medication Abortion Now Accounts for More Than Half of All US Abortions.” February 2022.

[4] New York Times, “Are Abortion Pills Safe? Here’s the Evidence.” April 7, 2023.

[5] Kaiser Family Foundation, “Legal Challenges to the FDA Approval of Medication Abortion Pills.” March 13, 2023.

[6] Health Affairs. “Penalizing Abortion Providers Will Have Ripple Effects Across Pregnancy Care.” May 3, 2022.

[7] The Commonwealth Fund. “The U.S. Maternal Health Divide: The Limited Maternal Health Services and Worse Outcomes of States Proposing New Abortion Restrictions.” Dec. 14, 2022.

[8] Association of American Medical Colleges. “Training Location Preferences of U.S. Medical School Graduates Post DOBBS V. JACKSON WOMEN’S HEALTH ORGANIZATION Decision.” April 13, 2023.

[9] Becker’s Hospital Review. “US Maternal Mortality Hits 58 Year High.” March 16, 2023.

[10] New York Times. “Rural Hospitals Are Shuttering Their Maternity Units.” Feb. 26, 2023.

[11] The Guardian. “Idaho Hospital to Stop Delivering Babies as Doctors Flee over Abortion Ban.” March 20, 2023.