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July 11, 1990

The Right of Privacy Protects the Doctor-Patient Relationship-Reply

JAMA. 1990;264(2):183-184. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450020034018

In Reply.—  Our article was an effort to explain why the abortion cases and legislation have much wider implications for physicians and patients than is generally recognized. Dr Lytle's letter is an example of how focusing on abortion rather than general legal principles causes one to overlook these implications. In his zeal to condemn abortion, Dr Lytle distorts what we wrote. We did not say that the actions of physicians can never be regulated by law. We said, "Obviously, the state can regulate medical practice.... Legitimate medical regulation generally requires reference to the safety, efficacy, or cost of the procedure at issue." It is these concerns that justify narcotics laws. The prohibition of abortion is related to none of these legitimate concerns, but rather is the imposition of moral beliefs of some on others who do not share those beliefs.Dr Lytle also implies that we oppose the doctrine of