Idaho hospital blames abortion policy for closing labor and delivery ward
A hospital in Idaho has made the decision to cut its labor and delivery department, saying the “political climate” is making it too difficult to retain staff.
“Highly respected and talented doctors are leaving. Recruiting replacements will be extremely difficult,” Bonner General Health, located in Sandpoint, Idaho, said in a Friday social media post. “The Idaho Legislature continues to introduce and pass bills that criminalize physicians for nationally recognized medical care as the standard of care. The consequences for Idaho physicians providing the standard care may include civil litigation and criminal prosecution, resulting in jail time or fines.”
The statement comes after Idaho enacted some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country last year, including a provision that lets people sue a doctor who performs an abortion for up to five years.
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That reality left Bonner General no choice but to shut down its labor and delivery department, the hospital argued, with board chairman Ford Elsaesser saying they had tried everything to avoid the result.
“We have done everything we can to avoid eliminating these services,” Elsaesser said in the post. “We hoped to be the exception, but our challenges are impossible to overcome now.”
Patients who would have used Bonner General for labor and delivery will now have to travel to hospitals in Coeur d’Alene or Spokane, Wash., more than 45 miles from Sandpoint.
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Bonner General also said the decision was made after the hospital struggled to maintain pediatrician coverage, which would have made it “unsafe and unethical to offer labor and delivery services.” routine”.
The hospital also noted the changing demographics of the area, pointing out that fewer babies are being born in the hospital each year.
The hospital said it would try to continue labor and delivery services until May 19, but warned that achieving that goal would depend on its ability to staff the department.
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“Closing obstetrics will not be an easy transition for our teams at Bonner General Health or our community and surrounding areas,” the hospital said.