Welcome to “The Quickie” — Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s daily tipsheet on the top health care & reproductive rights stories of the day.
IDAHO, TENNESSEE LOSE REMAINING ABORTION ACCESS; TEXAS INCREASES CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR ABORTION PROVIDERS: Today, total abortion bans triggered by the overturning of Roe v. Wade will take effect in Idaho and Tennessee. While a federal court clarified that Idaho’s ban cannot preempt requirements for emergency abortion care under federal law (EMTALA) last night, the ban will eliminate what little access to abortion was left in the state. People in Idaho and Tennessee had already lost access to abortion after approximately six weeks of pregnancy.
Texas’s trigger ban will also take effect today, increasing the penalties for abortion providers in a state that has been without meaningful access for nearly a year under S.B. 8, the six-week ban with a bounty hunting provision that took effect in September 2021. Abortion was already fully banned in Texas since Dobbs due to the state’s pre-Roe ban. Now, the trigger ban carries a first- or second-degree felony charge for providers who violate the law, with punishment up to life in prison.
“It’s clear that with abortion already banned, the point of this new trigger law is one thing — cruelty,” said Dyana Limon-Mercado, executive director of Planned Parenthood Texas Votes. “It is cruelty towards the doctors who could be subject to life in prison for providing health care. It is cruelty towards patients experiencing miscarriage or pregnancy complications who are now at risk of being denied a life-saving procedure.”
Elizabeth Nash, a state policy expert at the Guttmacher Institute, told USA Today that these laws are "a major step in reshaping abortion access in the country. You can start seeing the map get filled in on these two days. The number of clinics will be shrinking."
We have already seen the fallout from these states’ existing abortion bans, which have forced health care providers to delay potentially life-saving care and send their patients out of state for care. One woman in Texas reported that her physician was forced to delay her abortion — necessitated by her water breaking at 19 weeks — until she developed a life-threatening infection. Idaho abortion provider Dr. Erin Berry, Washington medical director for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky recently told the Idaho Capital Sun that the penalties under Idaho’s trigger ban would make certain situations, like treating a pregnant cancer patient, impossible:
“That person has a complicated enough life right now. Laws restricting or banning or limiting or giving waiting limits for when those people can have abortions are cruel,” Berry said. “They ignore medical science and the realities of those people’s lives and do harm.”
In a press conference on Wednesday, Ashley Coffield, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi (PPTNM), expressed similar concern about Tennessee’s law:
"The law will make the doctor second guess their medical training and expertise when choosing a treatment plan or risk a felony criminal conviction," Coffield said. "Now, hospitals and lawyers will be weighing in on life and death scenarios."
Now, providers like PPTNM will turn their attention to helping patients get out of state for care, offering support like gas cards and hotel vouchers for patients traveling.
EMTALA REMAINS THE LAW OF THE LAND, AS COURT PROCEEDINGS IN TEXAS AND IDAHO CONTINUE: Yesterday, in two separate cases, federal courts ruled in cases regarding the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). In Texas, the state and the federal court have made clear that pregnant people's lives do not matter. In Idaho, the court made it clear that federal law blocks the State of Idaho from prosecuting hospital doctors for providing emergency care.