August 4, 2022 — The Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) is a professional society representing a diverse population of healthcare professionals providing care for patients with heart rhythm disorders. While HRS members may hold a wide variety of viewpoints on social and political issues, the Society is united in its vision of ending death and suffering due to heart rhythm disorders. The pursuit of this mission is focused on advancing science and improving patient care. However, there are times when social and political matters interfere with the Society's ability to fulfill its mission.
The Supreme Court's recent ruling in Dobbs vs. Jackson enables state legislatures to enact and enforce reproductive health laws, which may interfere with the patient-provider shared decision-making relationship. Pregnant women with heart rhythm disorders may face increased risks, complications, and even death when unconditionally denied the right to terminate their pregnancy.
HRS opposes any law that impedes healthcare professionals from delivering effective evidence-based care. Restricted access to the full spectrum of care available to women during pregnancy will result in a decline in maternal health and erode trust in the patient-provider relationship. Limiting care options has even more devastating consequences for at-risk and underserved communities.
Healthcare decisions are often difficult and always unique to an individual patient's circumstances and beliefs. HRS contends that in consultation with their healthcare professionals, women are entitled to the right to choose and access care that supports their personal health choices.
Heart Rhythm 2023 in New Orleans, LA
With the recent Supreme Court reversal of Roe vs. Wade, some members of the EP community have inquired about the Society's intentions regarding Heart Rhythm 2023, scheduled for May 19-21, 2023, in New Orleans, LA. The state of Louisiana has a trigger law in place banning abortions. Members of the EP community have indicated that they will consider a boycott of the meeting and asked if HRS will relocate to a state that does not have restrictive reproductive health laws.
At the time of this statement, the restraining order has been lifted and the trigger law in Louisiana has halted all procedures. This status may fluctuate greatly over the coming months before becoming settled law. The City of New Orleans Police Department, Prosecutor, and City Council have all stated their intentions not to investigate violations or enforce the law if enacted.
While the Society's view on access to reproductive patient care opposes the trigger laws of Louisiana, HRS does not intend to relocate from New Orleans for Heart Rhythm 2023. There are several contributing factors behind the decision to remain in New Orleans:
- Relocating from New Orleans or a significant attendee boycott will have little to no financial or political impact on state legislators who oppose reproductive freedoms or New Orleans citizens supportive of the restrictive laws. However, it will negatively impact the New Orleans Parish and the local businesses that may not agree with the laws in question.
- Leaving the city will harm hard-working hospitality industry employees who have already suffered through the pandemic and the loss of hundreds of tourism-related jobs, the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina, and other more recent natural disasters and economic issues.
- In choosing to stay in New Orleans for Heart Rhythm 2023, HRS will offer opportunities for attendees, staff, and vendors to engage with local community leaders working to improve access to healthcare and other civil matters via a variety of mechanisms (e.g., advocacy, financial support, etc.). HRS will explore several different alternatives to voice and show support during the meeting and throughout the year.
HRS respects its members rights to personal perspectives on this issue, including those who support the Supreme Court decision. Nonetheless, the Society feels a duty to uphold the rights of women to access and make personal health choices for themselves, and the sanctity of the patient-provider relationship and related shared decision-making.
HRS trusts this additional information will help explain the rationale for hosting Heart Rhythm 2023 meeting in New Orleans and hopes you will join the EP community for the best exchange of science and patient care solutions in the field of EP. For those individuals who decide not to travel to New Orleans, HRS understands and encourages you to attend online to stay connected with your HRS community and then rejoin your colleagues in Boston in 2024.
Heart Rhythm 2024 will take place in Boston, which currently has no restrictive healthcare laws in place. Moving forward, HRS will only consider locations that align with the Society’s position on patients’ rights and its mission.
For more information: https://www.hrsonline.org