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Where Nurse Organizations Stand on the Overturning of Roe v. Wade

Alexa Davidson, MSN, RN
Updated August 9, 2022
    Nurses are directly impacted by the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which imposed abortion bans in over 20 states. Find out how nursing organizations are responding to the news.
    Credit: Getty Images

    The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is leaving nurses with many questions. How will this impact the care nurses provide? How can healthcare providers follow best-practice care while abiding by the law?

    During this challenging time for healthcare professionals, it’s important for the nursing community to stand together to protect patients. Here’s where nursing organizations stand in response to the ruling.

    Nursing Organizations Comment on Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Decision

    The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade came in response to a case called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The case questioned whether abortions are a constitutional right.

    The Supreme Court concluded the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion. With the decision, states have the power to ban abortions. They’re now illegal in about half of the states in the U.S.

    Many abortion clinics have closed their doors, and abortion-seekers must find new options for safe care. For healthcare providers, halting abortion care is not that simple. Providers like nurses, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives are faced with difficult decisions — like whether to do what’s best for the patient or face legal repercussions.

    Here’s what nursing organizations have to say about the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

    American Nurses Association

    In its official statement, the American Nurses Organization (ANA) says that the “U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade is a serious setback for reproductive health and human rights.”

    ANA acknowledges the ethical challenges nurses face as a result of the ruling. The statement explains nurses’ ethical obligation to protect patients and communities without coercion from outside influences. ANA recognizes the nurse’s role in assisting patients with making decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, including pregnancy.

    The statement continues, “ANA firmly believes that no nurse should be subject to punitive or judicial processes for upholding their ethical obligations to their patients and profession.”

    National League for Nursing

    [the] Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, jeopardizing public health.”

    The NLN continues, “The resulting health inequity can only exacerbate crises of public health traced directly to social determinants of health that the National League for Nursing has pledged to help eradicate wherever possible and at the very least mitigate, promoting universal access to culturally sensitive, competent healthcare and educational initiatives to maximize diversity and inclusion in nursing education and at all levels of the nation’s healthcare system.”

    National Nurses United

    The National Nurses United (NNU) press release’s headline reads, “Nation’s largest union of nurses condemns Supreme Court overturn of constitutional right to abortion.”

    National Nurses United is the nation’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses. In its press release, NNU advocates for patients and nurses to make autonomous healthcare decisions.

    It says, “Registered nurses understand that abortion is a basic healthcare service, and as a union of healthcare providers dedicated to advocating for the best interests of our patients, National Nurses United opposes any efforts to restrict our patients’ control and choices over their own healthcare and their own bodies.”

    Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses

    [ed] [its] position statement on healthcare decision-making for reproductive care.”

    In its statement, AWHONN defends healthcare providers’ rights to educate and guide patients to making decisions for their sexual and reproductive health.

    It says, “AWHONN supports and promotes a person’s right to evidence-based, accurate, and thorough information, access to all available reproductive healthcare services, and the right to make choices that meet their individual needs.”

    The statement continues, “AWHONN opposes legislation and policies that limit, prohibit, or puts a healthcare clinician at risk for criminal prosecution or civil litigation.”

    Reproductive Healthcare Nursing Organizations

    Several reproductive healthcare nursing organizations released a joint statement on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. This joint statement was delivered on behalf of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), and AWHONN.

    It says, “The women and patients who will be harmed by this SCOTUS ruling are those individuals who experience social and systemic impacts of marginalization – Black, Indigenous, and other people of color; those with low incomes, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities. We are committed to advocating for access to the full spectrum of reproductive health services.”

    American College of Nurse-Midwives

    [the] SCOTUS Decision, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.”

    ACNM’s statement confirms “the right to access to abortion care as an essential right of those capable of pregnancy. ACNM affirms that everyone has the right to decide what is best for their health, bodies, lives, and families.”

    The statement also says, “ACNM will continue to support efforts to increase access to midwives as abortion providers and engage with stakeholders to make abortion care accessible to the people and communities midwives serve.”

    The American College of Nurse-Midwives supports nurse midwives who provide safe abortion and postabortion care. Read ACNM’s full statement.

    Emergency Nurses Association

    The Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) and the American Academy of Emergency Nurse Practitioners (AAENP) gave a joint statement responding to the ruling.

    The organizations are committed to providing nurses and nurse practitioners with resources and education as abortion laws continue to change.

    It says, “As those events unfold, ENA and AAENP’s unwavering focus is on what the high court’s decision means for emergency nurses and their patients. ENA and AAENP will ensure emergency nurses and advanced practice registered nurses have access to clinical resources and education that prepares them for acute obstetric cases, while remaining committed to the delivery of high-quality care to every patient who visits the emergency department.”

    Oncology Nurses Society

    According to cancerletter.com, the Oncology Nurses Association is in alignment with the statement from the American Cancer Society (ACS), which says:

    “As a nonprofit entity whose mission is improving the lives of people with cancer and their families, the American Cancer Society isn’t taking sides on the decision. However, the decision will impact cancer patients and their families and is likely to disproportionately affect communities of color.”

    The American Cancer Society urges states to consider the following as they relate to abortion care:

    • Cancer treatment for pregnant patients
    • Fertility preservation
    • Screening and prevention