How Close to Death is Close Enough?
‘Not Dead Enough’
When she arrived at the public hospital in Texas, the woman was so sick she couldn’t walk. About four months pregnant, she needed an abortion to save her life. A previous pregnancy had led to heart failure. This time she faced a higher risk of death from cardiac arrest that increased as the pregnancy advanced.
But the hospital’s leadership denied her the abortion she needed.
“It was decided that she was not going to be dying at that moment,” Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi, who cared for the patient, told Rewire.News. “It really was almost a cruel joke: that she wasn’t really dead enough to warrant intervention.”
Many of the poorest and sickest patients end up at public hospitals when their pregnancies go wrong. But little-known laws in 11 states — Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas — prohibit abortion care in various kinds of public facilities, according to an analysis conducted by the Guttmacher Institute for Rewire.News. Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania allow exceptions to the laws for victims of rape or incest, but the latter three states require the crime be reported to authorities. Only Mississippi and Texas make allowances in cases where the fetus can’t survive. Although exceptions exist in all 11 states if a patient’s life is in danger, hospital officials are free to interpret what that means and thereby deny abortion care to the sick and dying.
I recommend the rest of the article. It's lengthy but well written.
This seems like a common approach among those wishing to re-criminalize abortion. They'll usually include exceptions to whatever restrictions they put in place for cases where a woman's life is in immediate danger from continuing a pregnancy, but "immediate danger" is a medically imprecise term of little use to either medical professionals or hospital administrators. So how close to death is close enough, and how much risk (beyond the baseline risk of a pregnancy with no obvious complications) is risky enough for the "life of the woman" exception to kick in? And why is this a matter that's best decided by legislators and lobbyists rather than patients and doctors?