AAFP Congress of Delegates Update #3

by UAFP Delegate, Thea Sakata, MD

Tuesday was an exciting day today in setting organizational policy at the Congress of Delegates. Due to the pandemic, much of the business of the 2021 Congress was carried forward into this year, including Utah’s resolution to have the AAFP advocate for abolishing the slavery exemption clause in the 13th amendment.

The 13th Amendment currently reads:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

While those guilty of a crime must bear the consequences of their actions, slavery has no place in modern society; and addressing language such as this at a national level (the State of Utah already amended the language in its state constitution in 2020) is an important step that can have profound downstream impacts on the health of some of our patients. I am happy to report that the resolution passed.

Our delegation would also like to give a tip of the hat to our New York colleagues. Though some in our membership may believe that Utahns and New Yorkers only agree to avail themselves of one other on ski lifts – and even then only begrudgingly – our delegations worked together to get two important resolutions passed. The first was regarding transgender youth participation in sports. Recognizing that our state membership holds a spectrum of personal views on the subject, we were pleased to hear the same range of views congruently expressed by other states’ delegations during floor debate, which was followed by a vote expressing that the health benefits of participation in youth sports should not be denied to this population of patients.

The second resolution was New York’s 2021 proposal to advocate for protection of patients who seek interstate travel to obtain an abortion. We worked with the New York delegates to propose new language striking out the word “abortion” and replacing it with the more general term “health care.” Again noting that our state membership holds a spectrum of views on the topic of elective abortions, we generally agree that medical decisions should be the business of a patient and their doctor, based on the patient’s individual situation and available peer-reviewed evidence, not legislation. The new wording encourages our academy to protect a patient seeking medical care in other states that may not be available in their home state while also advocating for the protection of both the physician counseling the patient in the home state as well as the physician assuming care for the patient outside of the patient’s state of residence. With the new language, the resolution passed with strong support.

Finally, thanks to some unscheduled delays and the comedic talents of both AAFP Speaker of the House Russel Kohl and Vice Speaker Daron Gersch, the  “dad” jokes ruled the day. One notable joke that spoke to this citizen of the Beehive State went as follows: I bought a record of wasp sounds, and it sounded different from what I expected. Turns out I was on the “bee” side!