The House yesterday passed SB 527 to require abortion providers to have contracts with a nearby hospital and ambulance service for possible patient complications.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains explains why this is needless legislation (except as a pretext to shut down an abortion clinic for lack of a document it doesn’t need). I reprint for the record here because abortion rights supporter have pretty much given up opposing the onslaught of bills aimed at putting the two remaining clinics in Arkansas out of business. One is operated by Planned Parenthood. It provides pharmaceutical abortion — a two-pill regimen prescribed to women in the first weeks of pregnancy.

Advertisement

Statement from Gloria Pedro of Planned Parenthood

“SB 527 is trying to restrict abortion by ‘solving’ a nonexistent problem: All U.S. hospitals have a legal obligation under federal law to accept all emergency patients that come to them for care, regardless of the reason. And, ambulances companies contracted with states or counties have an obligation to transport patients. Therefore, transfer agreements to ensure emergency care are duplicative and unnecessary.

“Let’s be clear: There is no medical benefit to SB 527. Laws like SB 527 do nothing but jeopardize women’s health by making health care harder to access. By denying access to time-sensitive abortion care, states are placing the health and economic security of pregnant people and families at risk, exacerbating systemic inequities.”

The news release continues:

Advertisement

The sponsors of SB 527 have no evidence of a single case in which a complication from abortion went unaddressed because the patient couldn’t get an ambulance or couldn’t get into a hospital.  

All U.S. hospitals have a legal obligation under federal law to accept all emergency patients that come to them for care, regardless of the reason. In the unlikely event that a patient experiences a serious complication while at a health center, the patient would be transferred by ambulance to a nearby hospital.

Hospital emergency rooms are capable of handling complications arising from abortion, and will involve an appropriate specialist, such as an OB/GYN, if needed. Therefore, transfer agreements to ensure emergency care are duplicative and unnecessary. 

As a federal district court in Kentucky1 recently concluded, ambulance services are responsive to emergency calls regardless of whether there is a transport agreement in place, and the existence of these agreements does not increase the quality of patient care. Nor does such an agreement change the nature of the ambulance service’s response or its response time.

SB 527 is simply another way to single out abortion care and add onerous restrictions that make access to abortion harder, even though abortion is already subject to many medically unnecessary restrictions in Arkansas.

Abortion is extremely safe and complications are exceedingly rare. Data, including from the CDC, shows that abortion has over a 99% safety record. Serious complications from abortion are exceedingly rare.