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HHS reminds doctors they must offer abortion if the mom's life is at risk

Xavier Becerra
Patrick Semansky
/
AP
In a letter to health care providers, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra wrote, “It is critical that providers know that a physician or other qualified medical personnel’s professional and legal duty to provide stabilizing medical treatment to a patient who presents to the emergency department and is found to have an emergency medical condition preempts any directly conflicting state law or mandate that might otherwise prohibit such treatment.”

Currently, even states with the most stringent bans on abortion allow exceptions when the health of a mother is at risk, though the threat of prosecution has created confusion for some doctors.

The Biden administration is telling hospitals that they must provide abortion services if the life of the mother is at risk.

It says federal law on emergency treatment guidelines preempts state laws in jurisdictions that ban the procedure without any exceptions following the Supreme Court’s decision to end a constitutional right to abortion last month.

Currently, even states with the most stringent bans on abortion allow exceptions when the health of a mother is at risk, though the threat of prosecution has created confusion for some doctors.

The Department of Health and Human Services on Monday cited the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). It requires medical facilities to determine whether a person seeking treatment may be in labor or whether they face an emergency health situation — or one that could develop into an emergency — and to provide treatment.

The department says its guidance doesn’t reflect new policy, but merely reminds doctors and providers of their existing obligations under federal law.

Click here to read more of this article from the Associated Press.