Physicians must provide abortion for emergency medical care under federal law and will face penalties if they refuse to provide procedures in these cases, Health and Welfare Secretary Xavier Besera said on Monday. I wrote to him in a letter.
Besera said federal law would anticipate a state abortion ban if women face an emergency related to pregnancy under emergency medical measures and labor law. If an abortion is needed to treat a woman facing a medical emergency, the doctor must provide the procedure, the Minister of Health wrote.
Hospitals that refuse to provide abortion in these cases may terminate their Medicare provider contracts or face fines, Besera said. He added that individual physicians could be separated from Medicare and state medical programs if they refused to provide abortion in emergency care. According to HHS, doctors can also use federal law as a defense in the event of a state prosecution during an emergency abortion.
According to Besera, these emergency diseases include, but are not limited to, ectopic pregnancies, miscarriage complications, and preeclampsia. Pre-eclampsia causes high blood pressure, severe headaches, and blurred vision. This condition can cause fatal complications if left untreated.
“Under the law, women are entitled to emergency medical care, including abortion treatment, wherever you live,” Besera said. “We expect providers to continue to provide these services, and we are strengthening that federal law precedes the state’s abortion ban when it is needed for emergency medical care.”
President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Friday instructing HHS to protect access to abortion. At least nine states have banned abortions after the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade case last month. This protected access to the procedure as a constitutional right for nearly 50 years. Several other states tried to ban abortion, but those laws were blocked by state courts.
The state’s ban on abortion generally exceptions when a woman’s life is at stake, but fertility activists fear that the law will have a chilling effect on patients seeking treatment and doctors who are afraid of prosecution. US health officials are worried that it may take too long for a cautious doctor to treat complications from an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage while waiting for legal guidance.
Abortion bans in all states make performing abortions a felony that carries prison time. Its length varies from state to state. Women who have had an abortion are generally exempt from prosecution under state bans, but reproductive rights groups are concerned that the state will move to criminalize the abortion.
Biden also instructed HHS to make the abortion drug mifepristone as widely available as possible and take action to protect access to contraception.
The Food and Drug Administration approved abortion more than 20 years ago as a safe and effective way to end a pregnancy 10 weeks ago. In December, the FDA permanently allowed the mailing of tablets from licensed pharmacies and healthcare providers. However, states that ban abortions also ban health care providers from taking pills.
The Reproductive Rights and Democratic Legislative Center is calling on the Biden administration to declare a public health emergency in response to the states banning abortion.
The president asks reporters over the weekend to find out if they have the legal authority to declare such an emergency to protect access to abortion and what the implications of using power would be. He told the government that he had asked the health authorities. However, Jen Klein, director of the White House Gender Policy Council, said the government concluded that it was not the best position to declare an emergency in response to a state banning abortion.
“When we saw a public health emergency, we learned a few things: one is that it doesn’t release too many resources. It’s in public health emergency funding. It’s a thing, and there’s little money — tens of thousands of dollars, ”Klein told reporters on Friday. “So it didn’t seem like a great option, and it also doesn’t release a significant amount of legal authority, and that’s why we didn’t take that action.”