Back in June, the Supreme Court overturned Roe V Wade, putting an end to abortion rights that had been upheld for decades. Prior to this, many states put into place trigger laws that would take into effect in the event that Roe V Wade was overturned. These would make abortion illegal, specified who specifically could get them, if they were punishable by prison time or fines.
Because Roe V Wade was overturned, these trigger laws became enforceable. The Department of Justice then created a new Reproductive Rights Task force to help oversee what different states were doing and what laws were in place. They wanted to identify if any of the states were doing things or putting laws in place that were in direct conflict or against federal law.
In its first case ever, the DOJ is suing the state of Idaho, saying their state abortion law is too restrictive. In fact, they’re saying that they brought on the case because the Idaho law would force doctors to violate the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which is a federal law that requires any hospital that receives Medicare funds to stabilize and treat any person coming to a medical facility for emergency treatment.
EMTALA is the reason we can’t turn anyone away from an Emergency Room. A patient can come in, be screened and then it is determined if they are medically stable or if they need to be treated. So when a hospital determines that an abortion is a medical treatment necessary to stabilize a patient’s emergency medical condition, it is required by federal law to provide that treatment. However, Idaho’s law, which is scheduled to go into effect in the latter part of August, is in direct conflict with that.
Understand Your State’s Laws
This task force hasn’t even been in place for a month and they’re already working to enforce this law. While the Supreme Court overturned Roe V Wade, the DOJ has stepped in to help keep women’s reproductive health and safety in mind and at the forefront. I’m hopeful that this sets precedence in other states and that they realize there are some things they just can’t do. Women should have the right to decide for themselves if they decide they want to be pregnant and have a child. There’s so many reasons why a woman may not want to, and respectfully, that’s her choice.
Not every state has the same laws regarding abortion. So whatever state you’re in, it’s very important for you to know what the reproductive health rights are. Make sure you’re aware of the trigger laws that are being put in place. Depending on the state, some things are already enacted while others soon will be.
Advocate for Your Patients
Don’t be afraid to advocate for your patients. If you have a patient who you feel is medically unstable and you feel like perhaps their pregnancy might be contributing to it, mention that. Say something, even if you’re in a state where abortions are banned, you need to advocate for the best interest of your patients, always. Be that hero for your patient.