Two hospitals are being investigated for violating the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act by refusing to provide an emergency abortion to a woman with life-threatening pregnancy complications.

The investigations mark the first time hospitals have been investigated for violating EMTALA for refusing to provide abortions.

The woman in question was not offered the care her doctors determined was necessary to stabilize her medical condition due to hospital policies that did not allow an abortion to be performed.

Patients and providers are struggling to navigate the patchwork of state abortion laws that have emerged since the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe last year.

The National Women's Law Center filed the initial complaint against the two hospitals: Freeman Health System in Joplin, MO, and University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, KS.

The complaint alleged doctors at both hospitals refused to terminate the pregnancy of Mylissa Farmer after her water broke at approximately 18 weeks of pregnancy.

Administration officials have said the federal government can penalize doctors or hospitals that fail to provide care and follow the law.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent the hospitals notices warning they were in violation of the law and asked them to correct the problems.

As more states move to enforce strict limits or bans on abortion, hospitals and providers are left grappling with figuring out what qualifies as a life-threatening emergency.

The Department of Health and Human Services is clarifying the responsibilities of hospital and provider associations across the country under federal law.

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