Fact Check: Texas Pro-Life “Trigger Law” Allows Doctors to Provide Life-Saving Care to Women
Board-Certified Physician Compares Actual Text of Texas Law to Standard Medical Guidance Provided to OB/GYNs
Washington, D.C. – Published reports indicate that some Texas doctors have denied women the current national standard of medical care due to apparent confusion over the Texas Heartbeat Act (2021) and the Texas Human Life Protection Act, which takes effect today.
“Sadly, it appears some doctors are making medical decisions based on media pundits and rhetoric, instead of reading the actual law,” said Dr. Ingrid Skop, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., a board-certified OB/GYN who has been practicing in Texas for more than 25 years. “Nothing in the new Texas pro-life law is in conflict with standard medical guidance, nor would it prevent me from providing the same care I have always provided women facing potentially life-threatening complications.”
Dr. Skop, who serves as senior fellow and director of medical affairs at Charlotte Lozier Institute (CLI), partnered with CLI legal scholar Mary Harned., J.D., to study the Texas Human Life Protection Act and compare the actual text of the law to the standard medical guidance provided to OB/GYNs by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
The Texas Human Life Protection Act, which takes effect today, states an exception is allowed if a medical emergency is present, defined as “in the exercise of reasonable medical judgment, the pregnant female … has a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy that places the female at risk of death or poses a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless the abortion is performed or induced.”
Critically, as Dr. Skop highlights for her fellow practitioners:
“What is ‘reasonable medical judgment?’ The new Texas law defines it as a judgment by a physician who is “knowledgeable about a case and the treatment possibilities for the medical conditions involved.” ACOG publishes dozens of bulletins that provide specific medical guidance for treating pregnant women experiencing both common and uncommon complications during pregnancy. If you are a Texas OB/GYN, are you providing your patients the national standard of medical care? That’s ‘reasonable medical judgment.’
“‘Reasonable medical judgment’ is a standard that doctors of every specialty use on a regular basis. It’s what we were taught in medical school, and we’ve all had briefings on it by our hospital or practice manager or insurance company.
“I’ve practiced medicine in Texas for over 25 years, delivered more than 5,000 babies, and cared for countless women through difficult and sometimes traumatic pregnancies. There have been many times I’ve needed to provide emergency treatment to save the mother’s life, but there has never been a situation where I have needed to intentionally kill the child to save a mother’s life. The purpose of an induced abortion is to produce a dead baby, and that’s not medical care.”
Dr. Skop and CLI legal scholar Mary Harned, J.D., who previously served as an Investigative Counsel with the Select Investigative Panel of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, have published a state-by-state analysis of every state pro-life law currently on the books. Their medical and legal analysis finds that every state pro-life law includes clear exceptions allowing medical treatment to save the life of the mother, and permits treatment for miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, which can cause life-threatening complications. Several states, including Texas, provide further clarity by specifically excluding treatment for miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy from their definition of abortion.
Click here for CLI’s full state-by-state analysis, including relevant citations, legal analysis, and medical bulletins.
In contrast to Texas law, which provides for a doctor’s “reasonable medical judgment,” the Biden Administration recently attempted to force Texas hospitals and doctors to carry out abortions even against their medical judgment.
The Biden Administration’s attempt to misuse the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) was blocked in Texas on Tuesday by U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix, who ruled that the Biden Administration’s guidance “goes well beyond EMTALA’s text, which protects both mothers and unborn children, is silent as to abortion, and preempts state law only when the two directly conflict.”
Charlotte Lozier Institute was launched in 2011 as the education and research arm of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. CLI is a hub for research and public policy analysis on some of the most pressing issues facing the United States and nations around the world. The Institute is named for a feminist physician known for her commitment to the sanctity of human life and equal career and educational opportunities for women.