APA Speaks Out on Confidentiality and Reproductive Decisions

Representatives of the American Psychological Association passed a “Resolution on  confidentiality and reproductive health” in February 2023.

According to the statements put forth by the APA representatives, the resolution affirms that a  psychologist’s allegiance to the ethics code should be given utmost attention when psychologists are faced with an ethical conflicts regarding law of disclosure and confidential information about sexual and reproductive health.

In the resolution officials noted the following:

“WHEREAS psychologists must be able to speak freely with their patients, and patients must know they have confidentiality when speaking with their psychologists, a concept recognized by U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland in asserting that, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, “under fundamental First Amendment principles, individuals must remain free to inform and counsel each other about the reproductive care that is available in  other states;” and

“WHEREAS Standard 4.01 of the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct  (Ethics Code) states that psychologists have a “primary obligation… to protect confidential information”; […]

“WHEREAS the Ethics Code does not require that a psychologist follow the law when a conflict arises between the law and the Code, but instead allows “each psychologist [to]. . . weigh the consequences of their decision when navigating these [reproductive justice] issues and attempt to resolve the conflict in ways that are consistent with the APA Ethics Code based on their own circumstances” […]

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the APA that the American Psychological Association, in accordance with the APA policy on reproductive rights, and human rights, affirms that a psychologist’s allegiance to the Ethics Code, including ethical standards related to patient confidentiality, should be given the utmost attention and significance especially when psychologists are faced with ethical conflicts with a law requiring the disclosure of confidential  information regarding sexual and reproductive health, including birth control; fertility  treatment; contemplating, seeking, or having had an abortion; and related issues.

The report is available at www.apa.org/about/policy/resolutionconfidentiality-reproductive- health.

FAQ at https://www.apa.org/ethics/reproductive-rights.pdf.



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