As physicians, clinicians, and scientists, the American Epilepsy Society (AES) is committed to the goal of equitable access to quality health care for all people. Further, we stand firm in our responsibility to deliver evidence-based medical care consistent with the best interests of our patients and against any interference into the practice of medicine that undermines the integrity of the physician-patient relationship.
The recent Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will encourage the troubling—and indeed, dangerous—pattern in many state legislatures for elected officials to practice medicine de facto through legislation. Most maternal deaths are preventable, but they are rising in the United States, which has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed countries – and the rate is twice as high for Black women. This decision will create new and unnecessary disparities in care, with new burdens on a specific group of patients—namely, pregnant people, particularly those who are lower income and/or living in underserved areas.
People with epilepsy are more likely to have pregnancies of clinical concern, thanks to higher rates of complications during pregnancy and after childbirth, and less likely to have financial and other resources that affect their ability to access care. Epilepsy impacts every aspect of the lives it touches—including, for many, the ability to hold jobs, secure health insurance, drive to work or healthcare appointments, and perform many functions of daily life that most take for granted. Newborns of people with epilepsy may be at greater risk as well.
While we recognize there may be a diversity of opinion about abortion within our membership, it is critically important that medical decisions are made by qualified practitioners—safely, together with their patients, and respecting the autonomy of each patient to make informed choices when provided with medically accurate information.