Opinion

Denial Ainít Just a River in Egypt - itís the GOP Messaging Plan

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Facts are facts: it is dangerous to be pregnant in Idaho under its effectively sadistic abortion ban that lacks any health exception. Women in medical emergencies that require abortion care are now being airlifted to other states, and some may suffer lifelong health damage by the time they get there. Doctors are fleeing Idaho in droves, because its laws force them to choose between medical malpractice and prison.

Rather than admit they made a mistake in supporting this lawís passage, GOP politicians like Attorney General Labrador are gaslighting the public by pretending that doctors are lying and none of these well-documented problems are really happening. Meanwhile, these politicians are actively making the situation worse by fighting any federal law that would provide a health exception.

We just returned from Washington D.C., where the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Moyle V. United States, a lawsuit filed by GOP politicians asserting that doctors cannot perform abortions to stabilize a patient, even when that is the medically necessary treatment to avoid severe health damage.

After the fall of Roe, a federal judge in Idaho issued a narrow order applying only to medical emergencies, such as where a woman is hemorrhaging or has sepsis. He found that necessary abortion care in such circumstances is protected by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), a nearly 40-year-old federal law enacted under President Reagan that guarantees treatment for emergency medical conditions and applies to all people nationwide.

But GOP politicians could not accept even such a narrow and critically needed exception. They decided EMTALA would grant too much discretion to doctors to save womenís health, so they appealed that order at great taxpayer expense in order to create one major exception to those who are guaranteed necessary emergency care: pregnant patients in Idaho.

During oral arguments last week, Supreme Court justices cited serious cases where patients were airlifted out of state for treatment because of Idahoís laws. We learned that one such patient not only lost her fetus but had to have a hysterectomy because the infection had progressed so far by the time she could be transported out of state for care. Is this pro-life? We think itís the opposite.

Idahoís abortion ban has caused an unprecedented exodus of healthcare providers from our state and has endangered women and families. There is no serious doubt about these well-documented facts, even among conservative healthcare providers. So we were appalled to hear Mr. Labrador dismiss this crisis by challenging the honesty and sincerity of physicians and simply denying that patients require airlifting to safety due to Idaho law. The arrogance of GOP politicians has reached record levels - not only do they claim to know better than women regarding what should be done with their bodies, but they also know better than doctors how to address patient emergencies and why those doctors are moving out of state! We understand it is an inconvenient truth for GOP politicians that the law they passed has had catastrophic fallout.

We understand that itís easier to simply deny the facts than to admit that what they did was very, very harmful to the people of Idaho. But to malign and blame physicians for this mess is beyond the pale. Gaslighting, denial and scapegoating will not keep doctors in Idaho and it will not save any pregnant woman facing a medical emergency. These politicians owe real, responsible solutions to undo the damage theyíve done, which means the repeal of this awful law.