Post-Roe v Wade psychiatry: legal, clinical, and ethical challenges in psychiatry under abortion bans

Nina V. Kraguljac, Debra P. Bruns, Paul S. Appelbaum, Erika Botello, Victoria L. King, Natalie Remiszewski, Alik S. Widge, Jonathan E. Alpert, Linda L. Carpenter, Adrienne Grzenda, John H. Krystal, William M. McDonald, Charles B. Nemeroff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In recent history, the world has witnessed a trend towards liberalization of abortion laws driven by an increasing understanding of the negative personal and public health consequences of criminalizing abortion. By contrast, several countries have recently implemented restrictive reproductive laws, joining the 112 countries where access to abortion care is banned completely or with narrow exceptions. On June 24, 2022, the US Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization overturned its landmark decisions in Roe v Wade that established abortion until the point of viability of the fetus as a constitutional right. After Roe v Wade having been overturned, it is projected that many women in the USA will be prevented from accessing safe abortion care. Importantly, abortion bans not only impose constraints on patient autonomy, they also restrict physicians' ability to practice evidence-based medicine, which will negatively impact psychiatric care. It is therefore crucial for the practicing psychiatrist to be familiar with this new legal landscape. In this Personal View, we aim to provide a topical overview to help clinicians gain a clear understanding of legal, clinical, and ethical responsibilities, focusing on the USA. We also discuss the reality that psychiatrists might be called upon to determine medical necessity for an abortion on psychiatric grounds, which is new for most US psychiatrists. We predict that psychiatrists will be confronted with very difficult situations in which lawful and ethical conduct might be incongruent, and that abortion bans will result in greater numbers of patients needing psychiatric care from a system that is ill-prepared for additional demands.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalThe Lancet Psychiatry
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

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© 2024 Elsevier Ltd

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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