SCOTUS Divided on Emergency Abortion Care

Press Releases / April 25, 2024

A deeply divided Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday on whether Idaho’s near-total ban on abortion supersedes federal law that allows doctors in hospitals (that accept Medicaid funding) to terminate pregnancies in emergency medical situations.

In case the fallout of the reversal of Roe v. Wade hasn’t been crystal clear, this case chilling demonstrates the dangerous ramifications for women and their families when our rights to reproductive freedom are stripped from us.

It is a perilous position for women and pregnant individuals and for the medical doctors who are caring for patients.

At stake is whether Idaho’s extreme abortion ban violates the federal law, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which allows for abortion when deemed necessary when a patient’s health is in serious jeopardy. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Idaho, the consequences will reverberate beyond Idaho to the other six states that have also legislated extreme abortion bans.

Already, the sweeping bans at the state level have led to unconscionable treatment of pregnant women and patients who are in need of dire emergency care.

One woman miscarried in the lobby restroom of a Texas emergency room as front desk staff refused to check her in. After being turned away from a Florida hospital by a security guard, another woman learned that her fetus had no heartbeat. In North Carolina, a woman gave birth in a car after an emergency room couldn’t offer an ultrasound. The baby later died.

Emergency pregnancy care is now seriously at risk, and the consequences cannot be acceptable to any American lawmaker, healthcare provider or citizen. Patients, hospital staff and even doctors are living in a state of confusion and fear about what care is allowable and the risks of violating the law in a landscape of quickly changing laws and court decisions.

What’s more, the risky foundation of abortion rights and care is leading to general substandard maternity care in the US, abject care that resembles the indignity, and dangers women in third world countries endure.

Idaho is ground zero. A wave of obstetricians have left the state or are planning their relocations to state’s where they can practice medicine and care for patients with high-risk pregnancies without the fear of violating the law.

The 2024 presidential election on Nov. 5 is key to ending the insanity that women are living in today, where our lives and health makes us second-class citizens.

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