On Tuesday, legal advocates for reproductive rights filed lawsuits on behalf of multiple women and medical professionals against three states that have passed abortion restrictions since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year.
Three lawsuits in Idaho, Tennessee, and Oklahoma name eight women, four OB-GYNs, and an Idaho medical institution. The plaintiffs’ attorney, the Center for Reproductive Rights, claims that despite having serious pregnancy complications, the eight women were denied access to abortion services.
State abortion regulations, according to two cases filed in Tennessee and Idaho, jeopardize the lives and health of expectant women in addition to impeding doctors’ ability to practice medicine morally. The lawsuits ask state courts to halt their anti-abortion legislation and to explain its “medical emergency” exceptions.
The Center for Reproductive Rights stated in a news release that “the unclear language and non-medical terminology in these bans have left doctors uncertain when they are legally able to provide abortion care.” It isn’t clear how ill or close to death a patient must be for a doctor to step in.
A woman in Oklahoma is suing the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital in court. When Jaci Statton learned that her pregnancy was not viable, her doctor urged her to get an abortion. According to Statton’s complaint, the hospital turned her away from their emergency room despite knowing that the pregnancy was fatal without treatment, in violation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). Hospitals with emergency rooms are mandated by EMTALA to treat people who are experiencing medical crises.
The legal challenges on Tuesday are a response to a comparable case that the Center for Reproductive Rights brought earlier this year in Texas.
A judge recently determined that Texas’s abortion restriction was too harsh after 15 plaintiffs in all asked for clarification on the medical exemptions in the state’s abortion statute. Officials from Texas, however, challenged the decision, putting the injunction on hold.
Nancy Northup, president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement: “The Supreme Court’s unjustified reversal of Roe v. Wade has repeatedly resulted, in multiple states, in women being denied abortion care when they face serious complications in their pregnancies.” No one should have to wait until they are close to death to obtain life-saving medical attention, yet that is exactly what happens when doctors are compelled to practice under the threat of punishment.
“Abortion bans across the nation are exposing pregnant people to risks of death, illness, and injury, including loss of fertility,” continued Northup. “The women who are standing up here today survived, but it is only a matter of time before someone does not.”
Dr. Emily Corrigan has observed doctors being compelled to leave Idaho and work in other states since it is illegal to conduct or attempt to perform an abortion there.
Corrigan said that the state’s hospitals frequently receive people who have been refused access to emergency medical care as a result of Idaho’s abortion statute. She continued by saying that numerous people must also travel “hundreds of miles out of state” in order to have the surgery.
In a statement, Corrigan stated, “I have cared for thousands of expectant patients over the course of my 16-year career as an OB/GYN and routinely treat patients with pregnancy difficulties, including by providing abortion treatment. But because Idaho’s regulations are so broadly worded, it’s impossible to say whether I can continue to deliver the same level of care I did before without risking harsh penalties.
Jennifer Adkins, another plaintiff from Idaho, claimed that she was expecting her second child when an ultrasound showed that her unborn child had issues with a high mortality rate and that it was probably not possible for her to carry the pregnancy.
Doctors warned Adkins that if she didn’t miscarry, she would likely experience life-threatening illnesses as a result of the baby’s diagnosis.
Adkins had to travel to Portland, Oregon, in order to access abortion care due to Idaho’s restrictive abortion regulations. She could only make the choice after receiving funding from two abortion funds.
“When I found out that my baby was not expected to live and that my life was in jeopardy, it was devastating… Adkins stated in a statement, “But the fact that I couldn’t get the abortion care I desperately needed in Idaho merely added to our sorrow. “We struggled to raise the money to travel for an abortion. No one is deserving of this suffering.
One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the state of Tennessee, Nicole Blackmon, claimed she was overjoyed to learn she was expecting in the summer of 2022, only months after her 14-year-old son was fatally shot in a drive-by shooting.
Blackmon, however, was dealing with chronic health issues in addition to melancholy and anxiety brought on by the recent death of her son. The baby would probably not survive since several of its major organs were developing outside of its body, according to a 15-week ultrasound.
Due to Tennessee’s immediate prohibition on abortions following the Roe decision and the fact that Blackmon could not afford to go outside of the state for the procedure, Blackmon was unable to have an abortion. She gave birth to a stillborn child at 31 weeks.
Blackmon stated in a statement, “I was forced to carry a baby for months that was never going to live because of the state’s cruel laws.” “I was sentenced to suffer mental and bodily anguish while also knowing that I would give birth to a stillborn child.