Update: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) issued notices of deficiency against Freeman Hospital West in Joplin, Missouri, and the University of Kansas Health System in Kansas City, Kansas, for failing to provide emergency abortion care to Mylissa Farmer after preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM), an emergency pregnancy complication, at almost 18 weeks of pregnancy on August 2-4, 2022, in violation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). CMS’s notices of deficiency are critical enforcement actions in a time when there is no longer a national constitutional right to abortion. Ms. Farmer hopes that “no one else will ever face unnecessary delays and increased risks of complications or death in emergency care during a time of already unimaginable loss.”
On August 2–4, 2022, Mylissa Farmer, a Missouri resident, was denied emergency abortion care by multiple hospitals in Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois after her water broke at almost 18 weeks of pregnancy. Doctors at two of the multiple hospitals concluded that Ms. Farmer’s pregnancy was no longer viable and that she was at risk of a serious infection, hemorrhaging, or death. Nonetheless, the legal departments at these two hospitals overrode their doctors’ medical judgment and denied the emergency abortion care she needed, while another two hospitals discouraged Ms. Farmer from seeking emergency care at their facilities altogether.
On November 8, 2022, NWLC filed a complaint with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on behalf of Ms. Farmer pursuant to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (“EMTALA”), a federal law that ensures patients receive the emergency medical care they need. We asserted that the two hospitals that overrode their medical providers’ judgment violated EMTALA, which requires hospitals to provide emergency care irrespective of state law, including emergency abortion care that a state might deem to be illegal.
On January 29, 2023, NWLC filed a complaint with the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights on behalf of Ms. Farmer, explaining that all four hospitals discriminated against her on the basis of sex in violation of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, the first federal law to broadly prohibit sex discrimination in health care, by denying her the care necessary to preserve her life and health. NWLC has also filed sex discrimination charges with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and the Kansas Human Rights Commission.