Idaho hospital stops delivering babies because state abortion ban driving doctors away


An Idaho hospital has announced that it will no longer be able to deliver babies because the state’s near-total abortion ban — one of the most extreme in the U.S. — has driven so many doctors away.

Bonner General Health, the only hospital in Sandpoint, Idaho, said in a statement last Friday that they had to discontinue obstetrical services, which will be phased out by May.

One of the reasons the hospital says it made the “emotional and difficult decision” to discontinue these services is because doctors are leaving Idaho.

“Highly respected, talented physicians are leaving. Recruiting replacements will be extraordinarily difficult,” the statement reads.

“In addition, the Idaho Legislature continues to introduce and pass bills that criminalize physicians for medical care nationally recognized as the standard of care. Consequences for Idaho Physicians providing the standard of care may include civil litigation and criminal prosecution, leading to jail time or fines.”

The hospital already has a low patient volume in terms of kids and births, and noted that birth levels in the area have gone down, making it hard to attract doctors when so many are leaving the state due to the political climate, according to the statement.

“Without pediatrician coverage to manage neonatal resuscitations and perinatal care, it is unsafe and unethical to offer routine Labor and Delivery services; despite our best efforts over months of negotiations,” the statement said.

Bonner General serves a community of around 57,000 people. According to the Idaho Statesman, once Bonner General stops delivering babies in May, the nearest hospital where obstetrical services are provided is about an hour drive away.

“We have made every effort to avoid eliminating these services,” Ford Elsaesser, Bonner General Health’s board president, said in the hospital’s release. “We hoped to be the exception, but our challenges are impossible to overcome now.”

Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. has seen abortion rights stripped in numerous states.

In Idaho, abortion is banned in almost all cases, except to save the mother’s life or for documented instances of rape or incest. Physicians in Idaho can be hit with felony charges and have their medical license revoked for performing an abortion.


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