Saturday, August 27, 2022

Are States Allowed to Murder Pregnant Women? Views Differ!

One of the Biden Administration's responses to the Dobbs decision was to issue an interpretation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) that basically says doctors have to provide necessary medical care to pregnant persons in emergency situations -- including abortion care, if that is necessary to protect the mother's life or health. Since EMTALA is a federal law, it would preempt state laws which purport to prohibit abortion care in those circumstances.

Consequently, various red states have sued to vindicate their sovereign entitlement to require by law that hospitalized pregnant patients be left to die even when their life could easily be saved by surgical intervention. Two courts, one in Texas and the other in Idaho, have now opined on the Biden executive order. They've split in their decision -- the former striking down the new guidance, the latter upholding it and preempting Idaho law to the extent it conflicts with the guidance.

The belief that Dobbs would remove the judiciary from the thicket of deciding abortion cases was always a mirage (if it was believed at all). It just changes what courts will have to decide. Right now, they're deciding whether states are allowed to require, under pain of criminal penalty, that pregnant women and girls be maimed or killed when their bodies and lives could be easily saved. And as we're seeing, on that novel legal question, "views differ". Such is the burden of having a uterus in the post-Dobbs world.

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