Alabama Hospitals To Pregnant Women – "Sorry, honey, we won’t help you here."

It's what every pregnant woman fears. There she is excited to be pregnant for the first time. She is finally getting over the morning sickness, and she and her husband have just shared the happy news with their friends and family. Then, one night the unimaginable happens. She is lying in bed and she begins to feel immense pain and cramping. She knows something isn't right. She goes to the bathroom and she sees blood. Quickly, she wakes up her husband and the two of them rush to the emergency room.

All miscarriages can be devastating. But, for women in Alabama, this nightmare could soon get a lot worse. This week, the Alabama Senate is set to consider a cruel bill (HB 31) that would permit the hospital staff, including any doctor, nurse, counselor, or lab technician, to refuse to participate in any phase of patient medical care related to ending a pregnancy, even if that is what a patient like this woman needs to protect her own health and future fertility.

Yes, you heard that right. Under this law, if you or a loved one is pregnant and go to an emergency room in Alabama because of serious complications, every medical professional in that emergency room could refuse to help you if the care you needed to protect you from serious harm to your health required ending the pregnancy.

"That can't be true," you say. "How could a doctor at my local hospital turn me away and refuse to treat me? Isn't that malpractice?"

The Alabama legislature is one step ahead of you. The bill would also protect health care professionals from liability for refusing to provide necessary medical care. What's more, the bill would exempt the hospital from liability under Alabama law. This means that even if the hospitals know that the on-duty doctor won't provide appropriate medical care, Alabama law says that in most cases they have no obligation to find someone who will. In effect, the Alabama legislature is saying to a pregnant woman in distress, "Good luck. You are on your own."

Fortunately, there is something you can do. We may not all agree about abortion, but we can all agree that people in Alabama deserve the peace of mind of knowing that when they or a loved one go to a hospital seeking emergency care, they will get the medical care they need. Please help get the word out about this dangerous bill. Share this blog on Facebook and Twitter, and let politicians know where you stand by signing our pledge to fight back against attacks on women's health. But please act quickly. The House has already passed this dangerous bill and the Senate could take it up any day.

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Anonymous

"This bill is designed to protect nurses, like myself, who don't want to assist a woman in killing her living, viable fetus (baby)."

Where do you draw the line in casting judgment on your patients? If someone experiences serious complications resulting from use of birth control, will you refuse to treat her? If you are asked to treat a convicted criminal, will you refuse? Would you refuse to treat a patient who has OD'd, or one who contracted AIDS through unprotected intercourse? How do you know that the patient you have deigned to treat is even worth it? Maybe he's a rapist or a child molester.

It's not your role to decide who you will treat and who you will not when someone in need of care enters your hospital. Maybe if the hospital has made it clear to the community (via official policies) that certain services will not be provided by any member of its staff, you can find some justification in denying care, but I am not aware of any hospital that has done that. No, the people who come into your hospital are seeking care, not moral judgment, and the expectation is that they will find care. They are not there to gamble that a given member of the hospital staff will refuse to treat them.

Rex

here is another example completely unrelated (abortion wise) to the the article above and read it entirely before comments. (it is actually related)
In california we have a new law about lead bullets being outlawed for hunting. Which basically means outlawed. Now the feds have a law that say you can not make amour piercing bullets. The nice thing about lead is it flattens out. Yet copper pierces. so guess what because of this a new bullet for pistols is being made of 100% copper and it explodes on impact sending sharp metal into a person. much worse than a metal lead slug. This bullet was made because the feds said you can't do armor piercing bullets and California saving a few birds. so we can say California has created a law that will mean many more deaths of people from hand guns. see its just a side offshoot of the "law" that is the same as the above article.

Anonymous

Here is the bill:

http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/acas/searchableinstruments/2014rs/bills/hb31.htm

It is as vile as the ACLU describes. The only thing in it that offers even a tiny bit of hope for the unfortunate patient of a "care" provider who would cast judgment and refuse to provide care is that written notice of the "care" provider's moral objection must be provided to the hospital at least 24 hours in advance if the "care" provider wants to avoid termination, loss of license, harassment, demotion, loss of salary, etc.

It's not just about abortion, by the way. A "care" provider could refuse to treat anybody that they have judged to be "morally deficient" or guilty of "objectionable" behavior. Suffering from an STD? Denied! Suffering from withdrawal? Denied! Can't sustain an erection? Denied! Adverse reaction to birth control? Denied! Drunk? Denied! Suicide attempt? Denied! Muslim? Denied (because religious objections explicitly count for the purposes of the bill)! Too many tattoos and piercings? Denied! Wearing an offensive t-shirt? Denied! Dressed like a slut? Denied!

So patients would have to roll the dice when they enter a hospital now, and that's very, very wrong. If you can't treat people in need, get out of the health care business. Please. Just leave.

Minivet

Why the fuck is this not a direct violation of EMTALA? Alabama can't nullify federal law.

Anonymous

^Actually, it's already been proven that a fetus isn't as human as an infant. This is basic biology and physiology. Once you extricate yourself from the illusion that your words in any way represent most of reality- of which we have no intuitive understanding -then you realize that a brain the size of an acorn with practically no experiential development is not the same as a baby in the arms. It is potential. Potential to grow a little bit more. Stop trying to view things in white and white. You're even denying a dichotomy.

It might also give a little perspective to know that on the order of half of pregnancies are terminated because of the inefficiency of the human birthing system. Many women never realize they've had a miscarriage.

Wrong is wrong

The bill cited in the article has nothing to do with hospitals having the right to refuse care. The bill allows individual healthcare providers that have objection to carrying out procedures based on their conscience and who state there objection in writing in advance to decline to participate unless it is a life-threatening situation and no other health care provider is available.

This is a link to the bill:
http://openstates.org/.../2014rs/HB31/documents/ALD00017702/

Propaganda is wrong. It does not matter if it is the ACLU or the Tea Party doing it. I will not contribute a dime to the ACLU in the future.

Anonymous

Isn't it ironic that civil liberties include the right to life and the freedom of religion. Yeah, ACLU, your liberal bias is showing. Change your acronym...

Anonymous

As usual the aclu has extremely exaggerated this law to the point of outright untruth. Section 4b of the law reads as follows: "No health care provider shall be civilly, criminally, or administratively liable for declining to participate in a health care service that violates his or her conscience except when failure to do would immediately endanger the life of a patient." [This to protect people who believe abortion (for example) is morally wrong and would be forced or pressured into participating or suffer repercussions such as termination, lawsuit, etc.]
4 d: (d) "Notwithstanding any other provision in this act, in a life-threatening situation where no other health care provider is available or capable of providing or participating in a health care service, a health care provider shall provide and participate in treatment, care, or procedures until an alternate health care provider capable of providing or participating in the emergency treatment, care, or procedures is found or otherwise becomes available."

Anonymous

As usual the aclu has extremely exaggerated this law to the point of outright untruth. Section 4b of the law HB31: "No health care provider shall be civilly, criminally, or administratively liable for declining to participate in a health care service that violates his or her conscience except when failure to do would immediately endanger the life of a patient." [This to protect people who believe abortion (for example) is morally wrong and would be forced or pressured into participating or suffer repercussions such as termination, lawsuit, etc.]

Anonymous

Aclu is totally incorrect. Actual bill: http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/acas/searchableinstruments/2014rs/PrintFiles/HB31-eng.pdf
Protects helath care provider violating conscious and being discriminated against or forced to comply, but also protects the patient in emergency.

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