An Idaho hospital will be no longer delivering babies, to protect their doctors among political firestorm.
Bonner General Health in Sandpoint, Idaho, is going to stop providing any obstetrical care under new state laws.
After the U.S. Supreme Court reversed Roe vs Wade last year, Idaho immediately banned nearly all abortions. The measures they passed include subjecting physicians to prosecution for any involvement in abortions or ‘suspicious’ miscarriages, even if needed to protect the health of a pregnant patient. Only in cases of imminent death.
Physicians could face felony charges and a medical license revocation for violating the law, which the Idaho Supreme Court determined earlier this year is constitutional. A federal judge has stopped Idaho from enforcing the ban in medical emergencies at Medicare-funded facilities, but that is not a secure shield for most doctors.
The small Idaho hospital says they have been losing doctors since the law change, with many leaving the state.
“We have made every effort to avoid eliminating these services,” Ford Elsaesser, Bonner General Health’s Board president, said in the release. “We hoped to be the exception, but our challenges are impossible to overcome now.”
The next nearest hospital which can provide obstetrics care is 45 miles away, in Coeur d’Alene. Annual snowfall in Sandpoint is about 5′. Dr. Amelia Huntsberger, an ob-gyn at Bonner General Hospital, helped file suit against the law last year, unsuccessfully.
“For rural patients in particular, delaying medical care until we can say an abortion is necessary to prevent death is dangerous,” she said in her court filing. “Patients will suffer pain, complications, and could die if physicians comply with Idaho law as written.”
Bonner General is cooperating with another Idaho hospital, Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene, to ensure that current patients are still protected and safe during the closure.
“Leadership from both hospitals are working together to identify any barriers to care for the patient population affected by this closure and are creating solutions to ensure a quality birth experience,” said a Facebook post by Kootenai Health.