The US Department of Health says doctors must perform an abortion if the mother’s life is in danger

July 11 (Reuters) – The Biden administration said on Monday that health care providers must provide abortion services if a mother’s life is in danger, and that procedures performed in such situations would be protected under federal law regardless of various state bans.

Roe v. The guidance comes days after President Joe Biden signed an executive order to ease access to abortion services after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month to overturn the Wade decision. read more

The Department of Health and Human Services said on Monday doctors must provide that treatment if the pregnant patient is experiencing a medical emergency and the abortion is “stabilizing treatment” as defined by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA).

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EMTALA requires medical facilities to determine whether a person seeking treatment is in labor or is experiencing a medical emergency, and protects providers of legally mandated abortion services in such situations.

The department said in a statement that emergency conditions include “ectopic pregnancy, complications of pregnancy loss, or manifest hypertensive disorders such as preeclampsia with severe features.”

The health department said the guidance does not reflect new policy, but reminds doctors and providers of their obligations under federal law.

On Sunday, Biden said he asked his administration to consider whether he has the authority to declare a public health emergency over abortion. read more

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday that declaring a public health emergency does not necessarily free up resources, citing the experience of higher federal spending for the government’s response to Covid-19 and monkey flu.

“It does not issue a significant amount of legal authority,” Jean-Pierre told reporters. “That’s why we haven’t taken that step yet.”

Still, he added: “Everything is on the table.”

The White House has been under pressure from within Biden’s own party to act since last month’s Supreme Court ruling. Protecting abortion rights means female Democrats, a Reuters poll shows, and more than 70% of Americans think the issue should be left to a woman and her doctor. read more

In a separate letter to providers, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said EMTALA protects health care providers’ clinical judgment regardless of restrictions in the state in which they practice.

Becerra wrote that the professional and legal duty of a physician or other qualified medical personnel to “provide stabilizing medical treatment … preempts any state statute that directly conflicts with or prohibits such treatment.”

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Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bangalore and Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Sam Holmes

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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