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Idaho’s abortion ban is sending pregnant patients out of state

Since January, Dr. Stacy Seyb, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist in Boise, Idaho, has had at least four of her patients put on emergency flights and flown out of state while They suffered from serious pregnancy complications.

One was a woman whose water broke about 20 weeks into her pregnancy, putting her at risk of infection. In these types of emergencies, terminating the patient’s pregnancy may be part of the standard of care. But doctors at the hospital where Seyb works say they have been forced to transfer patients with these complications out of state to comply with the state’s abortion ban.

“It’s become the new normal, which is sad,” he said.

Idaho bans all abortions, with criminal penalties of up to five years in prison for anyone performing or assisting in one. The law provides limited exceptions for rape, incest, and to save a mother’s life, but there are no exceptions to protect her health.

After oral arguments Wednesday, the Supreme Court is now considering whether Idaho’s abortion ban violates a federal law that requires hospitals to provide emergency care to patients in crisis. So far, the justices appear divided on this issue, with some of the more conservative justices appearing to lean in favor of the state of Idaho, which has argued that federal law should not supersede its own child care laws. health.

St. Luke’s Health System, which includes the hospital where Seyb works, filed an amicus brief in the case, emphasizing that an abortion can be critical to protecting a patient from non-fatal harm like loss of life. organs, permanent disability, severe pain or loss of fertility. . He also said the ban forced patients to undergo potentially risky out-of-state transfers.

Asked Wednesday about patients being denied care, Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador, a Republican, said: “Idaho law protects the unborn and protects the life of the mother, and in any case where the mother’s life is in danger (abortion). will be licensed by the State of Idaho.

Since Jan. 5, when the Supreme Court lifted an injunction that protected doctors providing emergency care, six pregnant patients at St. Luke’s have had to be flown out of Idaho, according to Dr. Jim Souza, a physician- head of St. Luke’s. That of Luc. Last year, the system saw only one such transfer, he said.

Out-of-state medical transfers can delay needed care and result in immense financial and emotional costs for pregnant patients, who may find themselves away from home during some of the most difficult times of their lives. The cost of flights can exceed $10,000, and transportation may also be considered out-of-network by insurance, increasing the share that patients must pay out of pocket.

Life Flight emergency response helicopter in Idaho.Universal Images Group via Getty Images

According to Souza, one of the most common complications occurs when a patient’s water breaks during the first two trimesters of pregnancy. Last year, the hospital system recorded 54 such cases, most occurring before fetal viability.

Physicians for Human Rights, an organization that advocates for abortion rights, also filed an amicus brief in the case before the Supreme Court. He cites a March report for which the group interviewed several doctors who practice or have practiced in Idaho, as well as doctors based in neighboring states who have received transferred patients.

Dr. Sarena Hayer, an Oregon physician, described seeing a patient from Idaho who was seriously ill when she arrived by plane. The patient was pregnant with twins at 18 weeks when she suffered a serious pregnancy complication. The patient also had a history of kidney problems and had previously received a transplant.

Doctors at her Idaho hospital determined that one of her fetuses had died, and her lab results were troubling. She told her doctors that she “wanted them to do everything they could, including firing,” according to the report. But she was eventually flown to Oregon. The next morning, she also lost her other fetus.

If the woman had started her care in Oregon, she would have been offered termination almost immediately, Hayer said.

“What other medical condition can we think of that would require a sick patient to be transported to another state for a legal reason? Hayer told NBC News. “That seems really unfair.”

“In a way, you’re torturing women because you don’t give them definitive care until you can say they’re on the verge of death,” said Dr. Michele Heisler, medical director of Doctors for human rights. a meeting. “I think that’s the issue here.”

Idaho doctors also described situations in which patients with serious pregnancy complications were unable to leave the state for treatment.

Dr. Michael Schneider, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist in Boise, recalled a patient whose water broke about 20 weeks but who refused to be flown out of state, in part because she couldn’t not leave his family. Expenses were another concern. The woman left the hospital, he said, then returned after feeling contractions. She went into labor, but her fetus did not survive.

During her decades in medicine, Schneider learned that pregnant women’s vulnerabilities are acute. During his first night of residency at a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, a patient with sepsis died.

“That’s what keeps me awake: that someone is going to be put in danger, or that a transport is going to go wrong and the mother is going to be seriously injured,” he said. “There’s nothing worse than losing two.”

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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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