The Texas Medical Association is asking state regulators to step in after it says several hospitals afraid of violating the state’s abortion ban have turned away pregnant patients or delayed care leading to complications, The Dallas Morning News reported.
In a letter to the Texas Medical Board — the state agency that regulates the practice of medicine — TMA officials on Wednesday said they have received complaints that hospital administrators and their legal teams are stopping doctors from providing medically appropriate care to patients with some pregnancy complications. They ask the board to “swiftly act to prevent any wrongful intrusion into the practice of medicine.”
TMA is a professional nonprofit that represents over 55,000 medical professionals in the state.
The request comes as confusion and concerns abound among Texas medical professionals over what they can and cannot do under Texas’ abortion ban.
Beyond elective abortions, there are several situations in which a doctor might advise an abortion for the safety of the patient — including ectopic pregnancies, in which a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus, making it unviable — or provide other stabilizing treatments during hypertension and preeclampsia. Delays in treatment can cause serious health complications.
But in a post-Roe world, physicians in states where abortion has been banned have to weigh the legal implications of their actions, instead of making decisions based on what prevailing medical literature recommends. In Texas, doctors can face six-figure fines and be put in jail for any disallowed abortions.
According to the Morning News, the TMA included in its letter examples of some cases in which treatment was denied or delayed but did not name specific hospitals. In Central Texas, a physician was allegedly instructed to not treat an ectopic pregnancy until a rupture occurred, which puts patient health at serious risk, the letter says.
“Delayed or prevented care in this scenario creates a substantial risk for the patient’s future reproductive ability and poses serious risk to the patient’s immediate physical wellbeing,” the letter says.
The TMA letter also accused two other hospitals of telling doctors to turn away pregnant patients and send them home to “expel the fetus” if their water broke too soon, which can put them at risk of infection.
Not only are patients being put at risk of serious injury, but doctors could face lawsuits or the loss of their medical licenses for not providing adequate care, the TMA letter says. Failing to do so might violate the state’s prohibition on the corporate practice of medicine, which generally prohibits corporations or nonphysicians from practicing medicine.
The TMA’s plea comes one day after Texas sued the Biden administration to block new federal guidance reiterating to the nation’s doctors that they’re protected by federal law to terminate a pregnancy as part of emergency treatment.
Yeah, that. Look, I’m sure that was a splendid and appropriately stern letter that the TMA sent to those hospitals and pharmacies. I can’t find a copy of it online, but I believe it said all the right things. You know what would be even better than those words? Some action in the form of supporting candidates that will not sue to stop hospitals and doctors from giving needed treatment to their patients, and will not support the surely forthcoming legislation that will aim to put doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers in jail for providing needed health care to patients. I can think of a few, and I’m sure you can, too. What do you say, Texas Medical Association?