After an Idaho hospital closed its obstetrics department, pregnant women in the county have been left without nearby care. Their OB-GYNs fled the state.
Sept. 30, 2023
By Julianne McShane
If you’re pregnant in Bonner County, Idaho, you’ll likely spend a lot of time on Route 95. Bonner General Health, a 25-bed hospital, discontinued obstetrics, labor and delivery services this year. So for residents, Route 95 is the way to the closest in-state hospital with obstetrics care, which is at least an hour’s drive south — or longer in the snowy winter.
The hospital, which staffed the county’s only OB-GYNs, cited the state’s “legal and political climate” as one of the reasons it shuttered the department. Abortion has been banned in Idaho, with few exceptions, since August 2022.
I’m speaking out so women who will need to make a difficult decision will have the right to make it, writes guest columnist Jillaine St.Michel.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2023
I have always considered myself pro-choice on the issue of abortion for all circumstances, but I never had to think about what that really meant until my husband and I were faced with that choice for me and our family last November.
Up until that point, it was a theoretical right, and one I so mistakenly took for granted — the right to bodily autonomy, the right to make health care and personal family decisions without government intrusion. I no longer take these human rights for granted.
Jillaine St.Michel is one of four women suing Idaho over the state’s abortion ban, pushing to allow doctors to perform abortions in cases like hers
Wed 13 Sep 2023
When Jillaine St.Michel’s chatty ultrasound technician suddenly got quiet, St.Michel didn’t initially think too much of it.
The 37-year-old Idaho mother’s second pregnancy had been smooth. She had been feeling so great that she hadn’t felt the need to bring her husband along to her 20-week scan in late November of last year, a few weeks after they publicly announced the pregnancy.
The women allege they were denied abortions despite dangerous complications.
By Nadine El-Bawab
September 12, 2023
Women in Idaho, Oklahoma and Tennessee filed legal actions against their states over abortion bans, saying they were denied abortions despite having dangerous pregnancy complications.
Four women in Idaho -- Jennifer Adkins, Jillaine St.Michel, Kayla Smith and Rebecca Vincen-Brown -- and abortion providers filed a suit against the state, Gov. Brad Little, attorney general and the state's board of medicine, claiming the state's ban has "sown confusion, fear and chaos among the medical community, resulting in grave harms to pregnant patients whose health and safety hang in the balance across the state," according to a copy of the lawsuit shared with ABC News.
In Sandpoint, Idaho, the maternity ward closed down. Within months, medical care for women in the rural community was hollowed out
by Kathleen McLaughlin with photographs by Natalie Behring
Tue 22 Aug 2023
It’s a scene out of an American dream: a stretch of city beach buzzes with young families playing and laughing under the hot afternoon summer sun, moms chasing after children, splashing in the shallow ripples of Lake Pend Oreille. We are on the outskirts of Sandpoint, Idaho, a quiet, charming lakeside town in the mountain west. From the idyllic scenery and bustling beach, you wouldn’t know this is a place recently overwhelmed with anxiety, grief and fear born of state politics.
Lauren Sanders relaxes among the beachgoers in a sea-green bikini that reveals her pregnant belly, keeping an eye under her sun hat on her young daughter, Gwen, who’s angling to get back in the water.
State’s OB-GYN numbers are dwindling in the face of a legal onslaught amid fears that patients will be unable to access care
Sun 16 Jul 2023
Most mornings Dr Stacy Seyb is awake by 6am. He begins his day with meetings before a packed schedule seeing 18-20 patients going through high-risk pregnancies in Boise, Idaho. He has had a long career of treating people with all sorts of obstetrical complications so he’s used to stress. But it’s never been like this.
Now that federal protections for abortion have been gone for more than a year and Idaho is approaching the anniversary of its near-total abortion ban, the state has seen an exodus of OB-GYNs and other medical providers, leaving Seyb as one of the last remaining maternal-fetal medicine physicians in his state.
Alison Edelman, Maria Rodriguez
Sun, July 9, 2023
It was a terrifying moment when a patient from Idaho began leaking fluid during her pregnancy. She was diagnosed with a pregnancy complication in which the amniotic sac surrounding the baby breaks. Once the sac breaks, the risk of developing a serious infection is high. She was told it was very unlikely her baby would survive.
But because she was in Idaho, the patient was not able to receive the recommended care, an abortion. A new law in Idaho bans health care professionals from ending someone’s pregnancy unless the fetus no longer has a detectable heartbeat or the patient experiences a medical emergency. But under Idaho’s extremist laws, determining what is a medical emergency has become a legal minefield for doctors. The patient, who soon developed a life-threatening infection, was rushed to Oregon.
JUNE 8, 2023
by Megan Burbank
In April, northern Idaho’s Valor Health Hospital announced it would be closing its labor and delivery unit. It was the second Idaho hospital in as many months to stop delivering babies: Bonner Health had made headlines when it did the same thing in April, citing the state’s political situation as a contributing factor. Idaho is home to some of the country’s most draconian abortion laws, and the state’s long-running hostility toward abortion means patients from Idaho often relied on Eastern Washington abortion providers since long before Roe’s reversal.
But shutting down labor and delivery units is new. And a new report, “Care Post-Roe: Documenting cases of poor-quality care since the Dobbs decision,” from the reproductive policy research organization Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), shows why: As abortion laws keep physicians from providing standard pregnancy care as well as abortion, it’s leading to worse outcomes for pregnant people and their babies — and pushing clinicians to reconsider whether it’s even worth practicing in states where they effectively can no longer do their jobs.
Reviewed by Emily Henderson
May 2 2023
At a brewery in this northern Idaho city, hundreds of people recently held a wake of sorts to mourn the closure of Sandpoint's only labor and delivery ward, collateral damage from the state's Republican-led effort to criminalize nearly all abortions.
Jen Quintano, the event's organizer and a Sandpoint resident who runs a tree service, called to the crowd, packed shoulder to shoulder as children ran underfoot, "Raise your hand if you were born at Bonner General! Raise your hand if you gave birth at Bonner General!" Nearly everyone raised their hand.
Republicans are seeking to restrict women and girls’ right to travel by criminalizing friends and family who would help them
Moira Donegan, The Guardian
Fri 31 Mar 2023
Idaho Republicans are seeking to restrict women and girls’ right to travel. Less than a year ago, the state banned abortion with a trigger law that went into effect after the supreme court overturned the abortion right in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health. Now, Idaho is looking to stop young women from travelling out of state for their procedures – and to criminalize those that help them. A bill that sailed through the state’s house of representatives and advanced in the state senate last week would make it a crime to transport a minor for the purposes of obtaining an abortion without the consent of her parents. The bill creates a new felony crime, so-called “abortion trafficking”, that’s punishable by two to five years in prison.
The bill would criminalize an aunt or grandmother who drives a teenage girl over the border for a legal abortion in Oregon. It would make a felon of the school friend who lends her money for a bus ticket, or the older sister who takes her to the post office to pick up a package with secretly mailed pills.