For years, anyone showing up at an American hospital emergency room could get the life-saving treatment they needed. No matter who they were, a federal law known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act made it clear: If you showed up at an emergency room, that hospital had an obligation to do what had to be done to stabilize you. If an investigation found that they didn’t provide the treatment that you needed, the hospitals and the doctors themselves faced severe penalties. Throughout Idaho, and across the country, hospitals understood this and they did what they could to save the life of every person who came through their doors, including pregnant people.

Until Idaho’s restrictive abortion laws created confusion that is putting patients’ lives at risk.

In August, Idaho’s abortion ban went into effect and pregnant people across the state could no longer count on receiving the medical treatment they needed when they experienced severe pregnancy complications. That’s because the new laws don’t make it clear when a pregnant persons life is enough at risk to warrant life saving treatment. Instead of asking, how can we best treat this person? The question became: How imminent does this woman’s death have to be before she’s in enough danger to perform a procedure that will save her life but end her pregnancy?

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