New policies touch on anti-transgender violence, vaccine consent for minors, human trafficking
CHICAGO - The American Medical Association (AMA), the premier national physician organization in the country, voted to adopt new policies on emerging health care topics during the first day of voting at its Annual Meeting.
The AMA's House of Delegates is the policy-making body at the center of American medicine, bringing together an inclusive group of physicians, medical students and residents representing every state and medical field. Delegates work in a democratic process to create a national physician consensus on emerging issues in public health, science, ethics, business and government to continually provide safer, higher quality and more efficient care for patients and communities.
The policies adopted by the House of Delegates today include:
AMA Takes Action to Help Prevent Anti-Transgender Violence
Fatal attacks against transgender people have prompted the AMA to adopt a plan to help bring national attention to the epidemic of violence against the transgender community, especially the amplified physical dangers faced by transgender people of color.
"According to available tracking, fatal anti-transgender violence in the U.S. is on the rise and most victims were black transgender women, said AMA Board Member S. Bobby Mukkamala, M.D. "The number of victims could be even higher due to underreporting and better data collection by law enforcement is needed to create strategies that will prevent anti-transgender violence.
To highlight the discrimination and physical dangers faced by the LGBTQ community, and the disturbing pattern of violence toward black transgender women, the physicians and medical students gathered at the AMA Annual Meeting adopted policy directing the AMA to:
- Form partnerships with other medical organizations and stakeholders to educate members of the public, legislatures and law enforcement using verified data on hate crimes against transgender individuals and highlight the disproportionate number fatal attacks on black transgender women.
- Advocate for consistent collection and reporting of data on hate crimes across all levels of law enforcement that includes demographic information on a victim's birth sex and gender identity.
- Advocate for a central law enforcement database to collect data on reported hate crimes that correctly identifies a victim's birth sex and gender identity.
- Advocate for stronger law enforcement policies regarding interactions with transgender individuals in order to prevent bias and mistreatment and increase community trust.
- Advocate for local, state, and federal efforts that will increase access to mental health treatment and address the health disparities that LGBTQ individuals experience.
The Human Rights Campaign publishes information regarding the prevalence of physical dangers faced by members of the LGBTQ community. For details, see A National Epidemic: Fatal Anti-Transgender Violence in America in 2018.
AMA Supports Mature Minors Ability to Consent to Vaccinations
In response to the-emergence of vaccine preventable diseases in the United States, the AMA will support state policies allowing minors to override their parent's refusal for vaccinations. Under the new policy adopted by the nation's physicians, the AMA will encourage state legislatures to establish comprehensive vaccine and minor consent policies.
"The prevalence of unvaccinated pediatric patients is troubling to physicians," said AMA Board Member S. Bobby Mukkamala, M.D. "Many children go unvaccinated as anti-vaccine related messages and advertisements target parents with misinformation. Allowing mature minors to provide informed consent to vaccinations will ensure these patients can access this type of preventive care."
The overwhelming scientific evidence shows that vaccines are among the most effective and safest interventions to both prevent individual illness and protect public health. The inability of minors in some states to provide consent to vaccinations has been cited as a barrier to improved vaccination rate. The reductions in vaccination coverage threaten to erase many years of progress against preventable diseases.
As evident from the recent record measles outbreaks, when people decide not to be immunized as a matter of personal preference or misinformation, they put themselves and others at risk of disease.
AMA Supports Greater Outreach to Help Human Trafficking Victims
The scale of human trafficking indicates a persistent need for community responses to serve victims and survivors. New AMA policy adopted today by the nation's physicians acknowledges the unique and critical role doctor have in preventing human trafficking.
The new AMA policy supports the posting signs, notices, posters, placards and other educational material in local clinics, emergency departments and other medical settings to provide information about reporting human trafficking activities, or provide information that connects victims and survivors with assistance.
"The AMA believes that the health care setting is an ideal place to engage with victims and survivors of human trafficking to get them the help and resources they so desperately need," said AMA Board Member S. Bobby Mukkamala, M.D. "Victims and survivors who fear their captors or law enforcement rarely seek help and posting information in medical facilities can provide the lifeline they desperately need."
In accordance with the new policy, the AMA will urge the federal government to make changes in laws to allow local clinics, emergency departments and other medical settings to post the phone number for the National Human Trafficking Hotline.