WEDNESDAY, Oct. 5, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Three leading medical groups have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate growing threats to doctors, hospitals, and families providing and seeking gender-affirming care.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, and Children's Hospital Association called for swift action to investigate and prosecute all organizations and individuals involved.
"Whether it's newborns receiving intensive care, children getting cancer treatments, or families accessing compassionate care for their transgender adolescents, all patients seeking treatment deserve to get the care they need without fear for their personal safety," Moira Szilagyi, M.D., the president of the AAP, said in a joint association news release. "We cannot stand by as threats of violence against our members and their patients proliferate with little consequence. We call on the Department of Justice to investigate these attacks and social media platforms to reduce the spread of the misinformation enabling them."
Threats have affected hospitals and health care providers all across the country, from Boston to Seattle, the letter noted. Providers have needed extra security. Staff and families are experiencing "elevated and justifiable fear."
Providers are under threat for providing federally protected, evidence-based care, the groups noted. In their letter, they wrote: "Our organizations are dedicated to the health and well-being of all children and adolescents. We are committed to the full spectrum of patient care -- from prevention to critical care. We stand with the physicians, nurses, mental health specialists, and other health care professionals who provide evidence-based health care, including gender-affirming care, to children and adolescents."
Coordinated disinformation campaigns on social media are making matters worse, the groups said. The medical organizations also called on technology platforms, including Twitter, TikTok, and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, to do more about organized campaigns that lead to harassment against hospitals and their staff. They called for strong action when falsehoods are spread about specific doctors and institutions and urged social media companies to enforce their own safety and conduct policies.