The overturning of Roe v. Wade has left many women all over the nation feeling helpless at the lack of control over their own bodily autonomy, but luckily, on Monday, July 11, some good news came out of the White House regarding abortion rights.
As CNBC reports, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra wrote a letter to health care providers earlier today, declaring that physicians must provide abortions in cases of medical emergency under federal law, and will face penalties if they decline to offer the procedure.
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Becerra added that federal law pre-empts state abortion bans in cases where women are faced with medical emergencies linked to their pregnancy under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.
"If an abortion is necessary to treat a woman facing a medical emergency, physicians must offer the procedure," he wrote, mentioning that penalities for any institutions that fail to imply could include fines or the termination of their Medicare provider agreements.
As for individual physicians, they "could also be cut from Medicare and state health programs." For those afraid of the criminal punishments that may come with offering abortion in their state, Becerra made it clear that federal law can be used as a defence against state prosecution.
Medical emergencies that qualify for termination include ectopic pregnancies, complications from miscarriage, and hypertensive disorders like preeclampsia, which typically occurs after the 20-week mark and results in high blood pressure, severe headaches, and blurred vision.
"Under the law, no matter where you live, women have the right to emergency care — including abortion care," Becerra penned. "We are reinforcing that we expect providers to continue offering these services, and that federal law preempts state abortion bans when needed for emergency care."
On Friday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing HHS to protect abortion access after nine states banned it following the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade.
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