Updated: May 2, 1:30 p.m.
Federal investigation found hospitals broke the law by denying emergency abortions
Two hospitals that denied care to a pregnant woman experiencing premature labor put her life in jeopardy and violated federal law, an investigation by the federal government found.
Yesterday, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the respective investigations of the two hospitals — Freeman Health System in Joplin, Missouri, and the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kansas. CMS stated that the facilities did not offer necessary stabilizing care, an act in violation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). The woman was forced to travel to an abortion clinic in Illinois to access treatment.
“As we have made explicitly clear: we will use the full extent of our legal authority, consistent with orders from the courts, to enforce protections for individuals who seek emergency care – including when that care is an abortion," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
The National Women's Law Center filed complaints with CMS in the patient's case, launching the first investigations that the federal agency has publicly acknowledged since Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, according to ABC News.
Secretary Becerra sent a letter to hospitals and provider associations throughout the country reminding them of the healthcare provider's "professional and legal duty" to provide stabilizing medical treatment at any Medicare-participating emergency department to anyone who is found to have an emergency medical condition.
According to the letter, the patient in question was 17 weeks pregnant when she experienced preterm premature rupture of membranes. While doctors informed her that the pregnancy was no longer viable, they also stated that despite a risk of infection, hemorrhage and potential death they could not provide care because "hospital policies prohibited treatment that could be considered an abortion."
"Today, we send a reminder to hospitals participating in Medicare: you are obligated under EMTALA to offer stabilizing care to patients who need emergency care, and we will not hesitate to enforce your obligations under the law,” Becerra said.
CMS has not announced any fines or other penalties against the two hospitals in its investigation, but it did send them notices warning that they were in violation of the law and asking them to correct the problems that led to the patient being turned away, according to ABC News' reporting.
Updated: April 25, 2:40 p.m.
North Dakota's governor signs law banning nearly all abortions
On Monday, the state enacted a near-total abortion ban -- one of the strictest in the country -- with slim exceptions for rape or incest in the first six weeks, or in case of medical emergency throughout the pregnancy. Six weeks is widely seen as too early for most women to know they are pregnant.
The law is expected to face legal challenges.
"The bill "reaffirms North Dakota as a pro-life state," Gov. Doug Burgum said in a statement. To date, abortions have remained legal in the state until 22 weeks of pregnancy.
Last month, the state Supreme Court temporarily blocked the state's existing trigger ban while a lawsuit about its constitutionality proceeds.
The move makes the state at least the fourteenth with an active ban on nearly all abortions. North Dakota has no abortion clinics.
Updated: April 5, 11:30 a.m.
Liberals have first majority on state's highest court in 15 years
Janet Protasiewicz, a liberal judge on the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, won a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. She beat out conservative Dan Kelly by 11 percentage points as of Wednesday morning, in one of the most closely watched elections of this year.
Protasiewicz believes in a woman's right to choose, and was endorsed by prominent Democrats like Hillary Clinton, as well as Democratic abortion rights group Emily's List. By contrast, her opponent Kelly was endorsed by the state's three top anti-abortion groups. The 4-3 conservative-majority court will swing the other way once Protasiewicz fills the seat of a retiring conservative justice.
The state's Supreme Court is expected to rule on a restrictive 1849 abortion law in the near future. Of that law, Protasiewicz has said: "Do I think that an 1849 law is outdated? Of course. In 1849, women weren't even allowed to vote." A lawsuit challenging the ban is currently in a circuit court, originally filed by the state's Democratic attorney general and Gov. Tony Evers last year. It is likely to come before the Supreme Court this summer.
Updated: Friday March 31, 6 p.m.
CVS' Karen Lynch slams U.S. threats to maternal health
CVS chief Karen Lynch called out America's regressive maternal health outcomes during an interview at the Axios What's Next summit on Wednesday.
"It is unacceptable that a country of ours is going backwards in maternal health,” Lynch said. “We need to make sure that people and women are getting the care and the services that they need.” The company's priority is to improve access to quality care, including women's health, for Americans.
CVS was among the retailer giants that received legal threats last month from GOP states about mailing and dispensing abortion pills. In response, Walgreens announced it would not dispense the medication in those states -- including some where it remains legal to do so.
At the Axios summit, Lynch said CVS would continue to distribute the medications where it is legal, and the company will "wait and see" if Republican attorneys general take legal action over the pills.
Updated: Wednesday March 29, 12:20 p.m.
Idaho expected to become the first state to restrict interstate travel for abortion
A Republican-proposed bill currently making its way through the state Senate would criminalize adults helping minors travel for abortion care without parental consent.
“Recruiting, harboring, or transporting the pregnant minor within this state commits the crime of abortion trafficking,” the legislation says. Those found guilty would face up to five years in prison. The bill also allows for Idaho's attorney general to overrule local prosecutors, who may choose not to enforce the law.
Most pregnant people in Idaho are traveling for an abortion out-of-state, given how extreme Idaho's ban on abortion already is.
“Technically, they’re not criminalizing people driving in Washington state with a minor. The crime is the time that someone is driving the minor in Idaho,” David Cohen, a law professor at Philadelphia’s Drexel University, told HuffPost.
State Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R), one of the bill's sponsors, has argued its intent is to preserve parental rights. “What we want to make sure of is that parents are the ones who are in charge of their children," she told HuffPost.
Just last week, it was revealed that Idaho's restrictive abortion ban has forced some hospitals to stop delivering babies.
Updated: Tuesday March 21, 2023, 7:15 p.m.
Wyoming became the first state to explicitly ban the use of pills for abortion
The new law, passed last week, is the first of its kind in the country.
Legislation to ban or add restrictions on medication abortion has been introduced in several states this year.
The move comes amid a growing push by GOP states to target medication abortion, the primary method of pregnancy termination in the U.S. As of now, 15 states reportedly restrict access to the pills.
Earlier this month, Walgreens said it would not distribute abortion medication in conservative states, triggering California Gov. Gavin Newsom to withdraw an upcoming renewal of a contract with the retailer in the state.
Updated: Oct. 30, 2022, 7 p.m.
Nationwide legal abortions declined 6% from April to August, report estimates
Legal abortions provided by a clinician dropped an estimated 6% nationwide from April to August, according to a new report from abortion rights group the Society of Family Planning.
Since the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision became official in late June, the group found 5,270 fewer abortions performed in July and 5,400 fewer in August.
The shift represents a decrease in the national abortion rate from 14 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age, in April, to 13 per 1,000, in August.
The report highlighted a 33% jump in abortions provided by virtual-only clinics. April's 2,830 virtual-only abortions represented about 3% of the nation's total, whereas August's 3,780 accounted for 4.7% of all abortions, according to the report.
The group also found major April-to-August declines in restrictive states (13,850 to 9,390) and those that severely restricted or outright banned abortions (8,500 to 460). These were partially offset by an increase in estimated abortions provided in states where abortion remained legal with few restrictions (62,600 to 69,740).
"The declines in the numbers of abortion occurred in the same states with the greatest structural and social inequities in terms of maternal morbidity and mortality and poverty," the group wrote in its report. "Thus, the impact of the Dobbs decision is not equally distributed. People of color and people working to make ends meet have been impacted the most."
The Society of Family Planning's WeCount reporting effort built its estimate after collecting and reviewing data submitted by roughly four in five of the nation's abortion providers, according to the report. The group determined abortion numbers for providers who did not participate using data from the Guttmacher Institute, state health departments, news articles and other prior state abortion volumes data.
Updated: Monday Oct. 17, 10:45 a.m.
HHS investigating pharmacy chains including Walgreens, CVS over reports of withheld prescriptions
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)' Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has opened an investigation into chain pharmacies including Walgreens and CVS over complaints that some pharmacists are refusing to fill prescriptions for medications that could threaten a patient's pregnancy.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra shared the news on Twitter alongside a USA Today link highlighting the two pharmacy chains, which in light of the Supreme Court's abortion ruling and state laws now have policies that allow pharmacists to withhold from filling a prescription based on moral beliefs should they believe a medication is being sought for an abortion.
The policies have received criticisms amid reports that some patients have been unable to receive treatments for medical conditions. The medications reportedly being withheld include those used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, high blood sugar and severe acne.
"Since Dobbs & state laws that have gone into effect, HHS has received complaints about chain pharmacies across the U.S. for not complying w/ their federal obligations to fill prescriptions," he tweeted Friday evening. "[The OCR] has opened investigations into these companies & others."
A representative of Walgreens told Politico in a statement that its "top priority is ensuring our patients have access to the medications they need from pharmacists they know and trust. We will cooperate with HHS and any other government agency seeking more information about our policies to dispense medications."
CVS has previously stated that local legislation has forced requirements that its pharmacists validate with a provider that medications are not intended to terminate a pregnancy before dispensing, and that the company is focused on complying with evolving state laws and federal guidance.
Fierce Healthcare has reached out to the company for comment on Becerra's investigation announcement.
Updated: Wednesday Oct. 5, 10:15 a.m.
Arizona physicians seek clarity on state's conflicting abortion laws
Arizona physicians have filed a lawsuit to get clearer guidance on which of two state abortion laws they should be following.
Arizona's legislature passed a law shortly following the Supreme Court's Dobbs ruling that permitted physicians to provide abortions through the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.
However, a physician and the Arizona Medical Association wrote in a suit filed Tuesday that "there has been significant confusion" across the state due to a near-total criminal ban enacted in 1901.
Arizona's attorney general had filed a motion seeking to lift an injunction on the older law that had been in place since 1973 and, on Sept. 23, had the motion granted by the court.
"The court declined to reconcile how the Territorial Law is to operate in harmony with Arizona’s more recent and much more robust statutory scheme governing physician-provided abortion care," physicians wrote in their lawsuit.
The plaintiffs wrote that the various rulings "have brought abortion services to a halt across the state of Arizona," as the older laws lists criminal penalties of up to five years in prison.
The plaintiffs petitioned the court to issue a ruling that allows licensed physicians to provide an abortion in line with the state legislature's recent intentions while others are bound by the older law's broader restrictions.
"Arizona courts have a duty to harmonize the legislature's enactments as they exist today," they wrote.
UPDATED: Thursday, Sept. 15, at 1:20 p.m.
House bill would enable pharmacists to deny abortion drugs
A new bill introduced by House Republicans will ensure pharmacists can deny abortion drugs to patients if they object.
The Pharmacist Conscience Protection Act introduced Wednesday will prohibit the federal government from penalizing pharmacists that refuse to prescribe drugs that can cause an abortion if they object on religious or moral grounds. The legislation comes after a guidance from Health and Human Services that pharmacists could violate civil rights laws if they don’t fill prescriptions for such drugs.
“Your first amendment rights don’t go away when you put on a white coat,” said lead sponsor Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., in a statement.
HHS’ guidance released in July said that pharmacies still must dole out abortion drugs, birth control and other reproductive care treatments under federal civil rights laws. The guidance came roughly a month after the Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to abortion.
Small pharmacies have objected to the guidance, with industry groups saying it will create conflicts between federal and state laws and puts pharmacists in the middle.
UPDATED: Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 10:30 a.m.
Senators urge HHS to strengthen HIPAA protections surrounding reproductive health info sharing
Thirty senators penned a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra calling on the department to more heavily lean on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to protect patients and providers "from having their health information weaponized against them."
The group, headed by Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chair Patty Murray (D-Wa.), pointed to comments from Becerra and the administration promising to take every action in their power to push back on state-level abortion restrictions.
To this end, HHS should take "immediate action ... to initiate the rulemaking process to augment privacy protections under [HIPAA] regulations," the senators wrote in the letter.
Specifically, the department "should update the HIPAA Privacy Rule to broadly restrict regulated entities from sharing individuals’ reproductive health information without explicit consent, particularly for law enforcement, civil or criminal proceedings premised on the provision of abortion care," they wrote.
The senators also highlighted "widespread confusion" among providers and health system administrators unsure of whether they are obligated to turn over health information to state and local law enforcement.
Here the legislators called on HHS to further expand its efforts to educate provider and patient communities on the privacy protections already in place under the current HIPAA Privacy Rule.
This could include listening sessions, FAQs, webinars and other outreach regarding HIPAA's interactions with state laws, potential legal consequences for HIPAA violations and instructions on how to file a complaint with HHS, they wrote.
UPDATED: Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 4:00 p.m.
Graham introduces legislation that bans abortions nationwide after 15 weeks
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, introduced new legislation that would create a federal ban on any abortions after 15 weeks as confusion reigns among providers over how to handle the overturning of Roe.
The Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act would install a federal limit on abortions and have exceptions for rape, incest and to save the life of the mother. Graham, the lead sponsor, said that his legislation is meant to be a counter to an effort by Democrats to codify Roe v. Wade after the Supreme Court overturned it in late June.
“They had a chance to vote on their bill. I’m asking for a chance to vote on my bill,” he said during a press conference Tuesday on the legislation.
Graham noted that the 15-week ban brings America in line with most European countries. He acknowledged that there isn’t much of a chance for the legislation to get a vote in the Democratic-controlled Congress but would be a marker for future congressional sessions.
UPDATED: Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 11:00 a.m.
VA says it will provide 'needed abortion-related care' regardless of state restrictions
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will be providing abortion counseling and procedures to pregnant veterans and beneficiaries in cases where the pregnancy risks life or health, or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, according to an announcement late last week.
The VA has submitted an interim final rule to the Federal Register regarding the decision and plans to authorize the services immediately upon its publication.
The interim rule specifies that the VA's policy preempts state and local laws that would prevent the department's providers from delivering "needed abortion-related care."
“We came to this decision after listening to VA health care providers and Veterans across the country, who sounded the alarm that abortion restrictions are creating a medical emergency for those we serve," Shereef Elnahal, M.D., under secretary for health at the VA, said in a statement. "Offering this care will save Veterans’ health and lives, and there is nothing more important than that.”
The department noted that veterans are at increased risk of pregnancy-related complications compared to the general population due to higher rates of chronic health conditions.
The department will determine whether a pregnancy threatens the health and life of a patient "on a case-by-case basis" in consultation between VA providers and their patients, according to the announcement. Self-reporting from a veteran or beneficiary "will constitute sufficient evidence" in cases of rape or incest, the department said.
UPDATED: Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 11:15 a.m.
Provider groups file legal challenge against Indiana's near-total abortion ban
Planned Parenthood and other provider organizations say they have filed a lawsuit challenging Indiana's abortion ban legislature set to go into effect on Sept. 15.
Indiana was the first state to pass a new abortion ban following the Supreme Court's decision, with Governor Eric Holcomb signing Indiana S.B.1 into law earlier this month.
The near-total ban includes exceptions for rape and incest during the first 10 weeks, to protect the life and physical health of the mother and if the fetus is diagnosed with a lethal fetal anomaly.
It also outlines criminal penalties for violating providers and requires that procedures for these exceptions be performed in a hospital or outpatient center owned by a hospital.
Groups bringing the lawsuit—which include Planned Parenthood, Whole Woman's Health Alliance, Women's Med Group Professional Corp—said the bill "will effectively eliminate abortion access ... for more than 1.5 million people of reproductive age in Indiana."
Alongside arguments the ban violates the Indiana Constitution's right to privacy and equal privileges protections, the groups pointed to the speed with which the legislation was passed and the elimination of abortion clinics from the state's health code.
“Unless this ban is blocked, patients seeking abortion will be unable to access timely and potentially life-saving care in their own communities," Planned Parenthood Federation of America President and CEO Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement. "The abortion ban that the legislature rushed through during a special session—nearly immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade—is both dangerous and incredibly cruel. We demand more for patients and providers, and we will continue fighting for everyone’s right to make their own decisions about their bodies, lives, and futures.”
UPDATED: Friday, Aug. 26 at 12:00 p.m.
HHS offers federal funds to abortion-friendly states, threatens others with DOJ intervention
Health and Human Services laid down an offer and a threat to the nation's governors in a Friday letter addressing the upheaval in reproductive health services during recent months.
For the former, Secretary Xavier Becerra and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure welcomed states planning to expand reproductive care access to tap into federal Medicaid funding via Medicaid 1115 waivers.
"This is a priority for HHS," they wrote (PDF), "and states interested in federal Medicaid funding to expand access to care within the scope of Medicaid’s legal authority for women traveling from a state that has restricted or prohibited abortion are encouraged to engage with the [CMS]."
For the latter, Becerra and Brooks-LaSure reminded the governors that federal privacy laws only permit state Medicaid agencies to share beneficiary information "when that information is directly related to the Medicaid state plan."
Additionally, the HHS and CMS heads doubled down on their stance that the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) supersedes state abortion restrictions in the presences of an "emergency medical condition" including "complications of pregnancy loss or preeclampsia with severe features."
Becerra and Brooks-LaSure told the governors that they "are reviewing and will investigate" reported cases in which individuals have had medically necessary care delayed or denied due to state abortion restrictions, and are unafraid to combat those restrictions with the support of federal law enforcement.
"Where a state purports to prohibit providers from offering the emergency care that EMTALA requires, HHS will not hesitate to refer the matter to the Department of Justice to take appropriate legal action," they wrote.
The letter referenced this week's district court decision in which a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against parts of an abortion ban in Idaho. However, it was silent on the ruling against HHS' EMTALA interpretation that landed a day earlier in Texas.
UPDATED: Thursday, Aug. 25, at 11:26 a.m.
Federal judge strikes down part of Idaho abortion ban
A federal judge has struck down parts of a near-total abortion ban in Idaho set to go into effect Thursday.
The preliminary injunction issued late Wednesday would block enforcement of the state’s abortion ban as applied to emergency care that is required as part of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). The other parts of the ban remain in place.
The ruling is a win for the Justice Department, which sued earlier this month arguing that the near-total ban violated EMTALA and prevented providers from turning to abortions for emergency care.
“As the district court ruled, a state law that attempts to prevent a hospital from fulfilling its obligations under EMTALA violates federal law,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.
The preliminary injunction comes a day after a Texas federal judge ruled against the Biden administration’s EMTALA guidance, saying the federal government overstepped its authority when it issued the missive.
UPDATED: Wednesday, Aug. 24, at 10:28 a.m.
Texas judge strikes down HHS guidance on emergency abortion care
A federal judge sided with Texas that the Biden administration overstepped when it issued guidance that doctors are required to perform abortions as part of emergency care.
The decision released late Tuesday deals a blow to efforts by the administration to ease confusion surrounding the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court earlier this year. A federal judge in Idaho is expected to issue a ruling over a similar legal challenge on Wednesday.
In July, the Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance to providers that they were required to perform abortions if necessary for emergency care under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which mandates doctors perform emergency care for anyone regardless of insurance status.
Texas, which has its own ban on abortion, sued to halt the guidance from taking effect.
HHS’ guidance “goes well beyond EMTALA’s text, which protects both mothers and unborn children, is silent to abortion, and preempts state law only when the two directly conflict,” wrote Judge James Hendrix, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
Since EMTALA is silent on abortion, HHS’ guidance cannot answer how the doctors should weigh risks for both the mother and the unborn child, Hendrix wrote.
“The guidance was thus unauthorized,” he added.
UPDATED: Wednesday, Aug. 17, at 10:45 a.m.
White House, states, provider groups petition courts against Texas, Idaho abortion challenges
The federal government and 20 states filed briefs contesting a key Texas lawsuit over requirements that providers perform abortions under emergency circumstances.
In its complaint from July, Texas contended that the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) cited in guidance distributed by the federal government “does not authorize—and has never authorized—the federal government to compel healthcare providers to perform abortions.”
This week the federal government filed a brief opposing the state's bid for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction and asking that the case be tossed.
While federal attorneys wrote that the court should "dismiss this case at the outset for lack of jurisdiction, they noted that EMTALA "has long been understood" to require hospitals to provide "stabilizing treatment."
Guidance issued in the wake of the Dobbs decision "is entirely consistent with—and, in fact, flows directly from—EMTALA's text, and does not conflict with other law. It is both reasonable and reasonably explained," they wrote in the filing.
The federal government's position was backed the same day in an amicus brief penned by attorneys for 20 states and Washington D.C., which also highlighted the detrimental impact an injunction would bring "serious harms to patients and leads to spillover effects in other states."
Elsewhere, this week also saw those states as well as professional organizations such as the American Hospital Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges jointly file amicus briefs in support of a preliminary injunction sought by the federal government against an Idaho law restricting abortion that is scheduled to go into effect Aug. 25.
In their brief, the professional organizations wrote that criminalizing termination of pregnancy under any circumstances would "chill" the provision of emergency care and "overdeter" providers from offering lawful care. The organizations also reiterated other arguments that EMTALA is clear and has been well understood by providers prior to the Idaho laws' new restrictions.
"A preliminary injunction will preserve the status quo, appropriately respect the expert medical judgment of Idaho emergency caregivers like those who submitted declarations in this case, and ultimately protect patients who arrive at Idaho’s hospitals at the most vulnerable moments of their lives, when they are in desperate need of emergency care," the organizations wrote.
The heavy emphasis on EMTALA is a core part of the White House's legal strategy as it works to preserve abortion access where able, insiders recently told Reuters. Alongside the litigation push, the administration is also compiling research on the physical, mental and economic harms of limited abortion access for new outreach campaigns targeting women, men and religious Americans.
UPDATED: Thursday, Aug. 4, at 10:06 a.m.
Abortion hotline reports major spike in patient travel assistance requests
The largest national abortion hotline reported massive spikes in the number of patients who are seeking travel assistance since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June, an abortion advocacy group said.
The National Abortion Federation announced on Wednesday that its hotline reported a 5,100% increase in plane or bus trips and another 1,400% increase for hotel room bookings in the month Roe was overturned.
From June 24 to July 25, the hotline fund paid for 76 hotel rooms compared with 5 in the same period last year and 52 trips for plane or bus travel compared with one in 2021.
The increase in needs for travel assistance comes as 13 states automatically banned abortion after the Supreme Court ruling. Another 13 states have similar trigger laws that will institute abortion bans soon, according to data from the think tank Guttmacher Institute.
“The truth is, abortion bans are intended to make accessing care burdensome, and even with financial assistance, some people will still be denied the abortion care they need,” said Veronica Jones, the federation’s chief operating officer, in a statement.
UPDATED: Wednesday, Aug. 3, at 3:12 p.m.
Biden to issue executive order on abortion access
President Biden is expected to sign an executive order on Wednesday to explore using Medicaid to help people who travel across state lines to pay for abortions.
The order directs Health and Human Services to “consider action to advance access to reproductive healthcare services,” according to a White House release. “This directive is in line with the president and the attorney general’s clear statements on the administration’s commitment to defending the bedrock right to travel across state lines to seek reproductive healthcare in states where those services remain legal.”
The order also calls on HHS to consider any actions to ensure providers comply with all federal non-discrimination laws.
This is the latest executive action Biden has taken on abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June. His administration has also issued guidance to physicians that abortion is a part of providing emergency care under federal law, a move to ease confusion among physicians over when an abortion can be performed to preserve the health of the patient.
UPDATED: Wednesday, Aug. 3, at 12:30 p.m.
Kansas overwhelmingly rejects abortion ban in referendum vote
Kansas voters by a strong majority rejected a ballot referendum to outlaw the right to abortion in the state, one of the first referendums in the country since Roe v. Wade was overturned.
The referendum to add an amendment to the state constitution failed 58% to 41.2%, according to the Associated Press. The resounding defeat generated plaudits from President Biden.
"It’s an important victory for Kansas, but also for every American who believes that women should be able to make their own health decisions without government interference," he said in a statement.
The vote is the latest battle stretching across states over access to abortion. West Virginia's legislature is considering an abortion ban and Indiana's legislature is also expected to vote on a ban.
UPDATED: Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 3:42 p.m.
Justice Department sues Idaho over near-total abortion ban
The Biden administration is suing Idaho challenging a “near-total” ban on abortion the agency alleges conflicts with federal law that mandates abortion services for emergency care.
The Department of Justice’s lawsuit, filed Tuesday, is the first legal challenge the administration has issued since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in late June. It could have major ramifications for physicians who are trying to decipher conflicting guidance on delivering abortions in emergency situations.
“Federal law is clear: patients have the right to stabilizing hospital emergency room care no matter where they live. Women should not have to be near death to get care,” said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in a statement Tuesday.
UPDATED: Wednesday, July 20, at 8:55 a.m.
Docs to Congress: Post Roe-care has been 'complete and utter chaos'
Hamstrung physicians and limited access to reproductive and non-reproductive care stemming from states’ “broadly worded laws” were in the spotlight during a Tuesday House Subcommittee meeting polling medical experts and abortion advocates on the ramifications of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The majority of witnesses called before the Democrat-led Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Energy characterized abortion as a private healthcare decision between a pregnant person and their provider.
Medical professionals who testified also corroborated media reports from the past month describing practitioners who were told by their organization’s lawyers to withhold certain procedures until a patient’s condition deteriorated to the point where their life was at risk.
“Physicians are struggling every day. These are not rare examples,” American Medical Association (AMA) President Jack Resneck, M.D., said during the meeting. “The lack of flexibility due to that government intrusion is very frightening.”