Biden Reminds Doctors Of Federal Law That Allows Abortions To Be Performed

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The Biden Administration had to remind doctors of their rights when it comes to performing abortions in the wake of the Roe v. Wade reversal. On July 11, the Department of Health & Human Services clarified that doctors are protected by federal law if they perform an abortion in order to save the mother’s life. If the procedure isn’t performed in the midst of an emergency, Biden said he will issue fines and take away the hospital’s Medicare status.

“Under the law, no matter where you live, women have the right to emergency care — including abortion care,”  HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “Today, in no uncertain terms, 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. Protecting both patients and providers is a top priority, particularly in this moment. Health care must be between a patient and their doctor, not a politician. We will continue to leverage all available resources at HHS to make sure women can access the life-saving care they need.”

Doctors don’t have to wait until the mother’s condition worsens. If doctors find that the pregnancy could worsen a mother’s condition, life-threatening or not, an abortion is legal regardless of the state the woman resides in.

The federal law that protects doctors is the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). This law requires that “Medicare hospitals provide all patients an appropriate medical screening, examination, stabilizing treatment, and transfer, if necessary.” These procedures can be performed “irrespective of any state laws or mandates that apply to specific procedures. Stabilizing treatment could include medical and/or surgical interventions, including abortion.”

This guidance comes as states are gearing up to enforce their “trigger laws” that will be implemented now that Roe v. Wade has been overturned. States like Mississippi, Georgia, Missouri and Louisiana have abortions bans that are taking or have been put into effect.

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