Doctors cannot be compelled to perform abortions. But a federal judge has ruled that this religious protection is insufficient. A Texas district judge has ruled that doctors can refuse to treat women who have had abortions and people who identify as transgender.
How the Law Could Affect Patients
The law means that doctors could discharge patients, without warning, based solely on their medical history. For patients whose insurance providers cover a limited number of physicians, as well as those living in rural areas with access to few doctors, this could reduce health care access.
Even for patients who can choose from a variety of doctors, the ruling could have catastrophic effects. Finding a doctor can be challenging, potentially delaying medical treatment. Some patients may choose not to seek medical care at all, while others might give up when a doctor discharges them for religious reasons.
Women who have a history of abortion may choose not to disclose this fact, fearing retaliation. Safely discussing medical history with a physician is vital to quality care, so the law could undermine the health of women who have had abortions—even when the abortion is decades in the past.
Read our Daily Kos post on the ruling here.