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Complaints of pregnant women being turned away from emergency rooms in the U.S. have increased following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Despite federal mandates that require emergency rooms to treat pregnant patients in active labor or provide a medical transfer, cases of women being denied care have been reported.

The Biden administration has sued Idaho over its abortion ban, arguing that it conflicts with federal law requiring emergency medical care for pregnant women. Pregnant patients have faced difficulties accessing emergency care in states with strict abortion laws, leading to tragic outcomes for some women and their babies. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments that could weaken protections for pregnant patients under federal law.

Instances of pregnant women being turned away from emergency rooms have resulted in miscarriages, stillbirths, and other catastrophic outcomes. Hospitals that violate federal law by refusing to treat or stabilize pregnant patients may face fines or risk losing Medicare funding. However, it can take years for fines to be imposed in these cases.

The threat of penalties for violating the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) serves as a deterrent for hospitals to provide substandard care or refuse treatment to pregnant patients. Doctors and health officials have emphasized the importance of ensuring that pregnant women receive the care they need in emergency situations, regardless of state abortion laws.

President Biden and Health Secretary Xavier Becerra have pledged to enforce EMTALA and protect pregnant patients’ right to emergency medical care. The Supreme Court case regarding Idaho’s abortion ban and its impact on federal law could have far-reaching implications for other states with strict abortion laws.

EMTALA was established to prevent hospitals from turning away patients in need of emergency care and to ensure that all individuals receive proper treatment. If the Supreme Court weakens or nullifies these protections, it could lead to more cases of pregnant women being denied care by hospitals. The federal government is investigating cases of hospitals violating EMTALA and taking steps to address the issue.

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