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Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Washington State Hospital Association Responds to Governor Inslee’s Directive on Emergency Reproductive Services | Local

By meerna Jun12,2024

SEATTLE – Governor Inslee announced this morning that he is directing the state Department of Health to reaffirm and clarify state law requirements for hospitals to provide emergency abortion services.

This directive was issued in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Idaho Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States. The case centers on a conflict between Idaho’s Defense of Life Act and the federal EMTALA that puts providers on probation or at risk of prosecution for helping a person with an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or other life-threatening or serious health complications related to with pregnancy.

Washington state hospitals are already required under state law to provide emergency care for these types of pregnancy complications. Hospitals in Washington are currently providing this care, including to people who have crossed the border from Idaho and are seeking medical attention. There is no evidence that Washington hospitals fail to provide adequate emergency care.

Washington has strong state laws that protect patients seeking emergency pregnancy-related care and providers of these essential services.

“Washington hospitals are committed to providing emergency services in all circumstances. It is our responsibility and privilege to provide excellent, comprehensive care to people in all types of emergencies,” said Cassie Sauer, CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association (WSHA). “Washington hospitals comply with and support both state emergency care law and the federal Emergency Treatment and Labor Act.”

“Hospitals’ commitment to emergency care includes providing a wide range of services to which some people may have a moral imperative. This includes not only pregnancy-related emergency services, but also drug overdoses, injuries sustained in fights, sexual emergencies, services for undocumented immigrants and many other services that some people say hospitals should not provide. Our primary mission is healing. We do not agree with any restrictions on the hospital’s provision of emergency services,” Sauer added.

Hospitals vary in their ability to provide emergency services to pregnant patients. For example, some rural critical access hospitals do not perform surgery. In compliance with state and federal laws and by adhering to standards of care, these hospitals can stabilize and transfer patients requiring higher or more complex levels of care to a facility capable of providing safe care.

WSHA supported the American Hospital Association (AHA) in its amicus brief opposing the Idaho law. The AHA and several large hospitals in Idaho oppose the law, calling it harmful to patients and potentially forcing providers and hospitals to violate EMTALA, which is contrary to the hospitals’ mission.

Appropriate state laws that protect a patient’s access to emergency care and a provider’s ability to provide that care include:

Chapter 70.400 RCW: It protects doctors who deal with emergency pregnancy complications, such as treating miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies.

Chapter 9.02 RCW: Protects pregnant women’s right to make their own reproductive decisions.

RCW 70.170.060: Provides access to emergency hospital care, including emergency reproductive care, regardless of ability to pay.

Chapter 70.03 RCW: Protects healthcare workers who provide patients with accurate and medically comprehensive information.

By meerna

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