The Biden administration issued new guidance on Monday requiring hospitals to offer abortion services in cases when the life of the mother is at stake, in accordance with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA).
According to the EMTALA, hospitals and other healthcare facilities must assess whether a patient may be in labor and if so, whether that condition is or may lead to an emergency. If it does or might result in a health emergency, the facilities must provide treatment. In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade, the Department of Health and Human Services is pushing hospitals nationwide to adhere to the terms of the Act.
“If a physician believes that a pregnant patient presenting at an emergency department is experiencing an emergency medical condition as defined by EMTALA, and that abortion is the stabilizing treatment necessary to resolve that condition, the physician must provide that treatment,” the new DHHS guidance states.
“When a state law prohibits abortion and does not include an exception for the life of the pregnant person — or draws the exception more narrowly than EMTALA’s emergency medical condition definition — that state law is preempted.”
According to DHHS, some of the conditions covered under the guidance include “ectopic pregnancy, complications of pregnancy loss, or emergent hypertensive disorders, such as preeclampsia with severe features.”
DHHS reminded medical facilities in its announcement that the new guidance is simply a reminder of already-existing federal law that requires them to provide life-saving medical care to patients who need it regardless of state law.
“Under the law, no matter where you live, women have the right to emergency care — including abortion care,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said. “We are reinforcing that we expect providers to continue offering these services, and that federal law preempts state abortion bans when needed for emergency care.”
If facilities fail to provide care to patients, they face a penalty under the EMTALA.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: BOZEMAN DAILY CHRONICLE
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