Idaho hospital blames abortion politics for closing of labor and delivery department

An Idaho hospital has decided to close its delivery department, saying the “political climate” has made it very difficult to retain staff.

Bonner General Health of Sandpoint, Idaho, said in a social media post on Friday, “A highly respected and talented doctor is leaving. Recruiting a replacement will be very difficult. “The Idaho Legislature continues to introduce and pass legislation criminalizing physicians for medical care that is nationally recognized as the standard of care. , include civil lawsuits and criminal prosecutions, which can lead to prison terms and fines.”

The statement comes after the state of Idaho last year enacted some of the toughest abortion restrictions in the country, including a provision that allows you to sue the doctor who performed the abortion for up to five years.

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A sign reading “My Body, My Choice” hangs from a streetlight in front of the Idaho State Capitol May 3, 2022. (AP, Sarah A. Miller/Idaho Politician via File)

That reality left Bonner General with little choice but to close the delivery department, the hospital claimed, and director Ford Elsaser said it did all it could to avoid consequences.

“We have made every effort to avoid excluding these services,” Elsaesser said in the post. “We wanted to be the exception, but our challenges are now insurmountable.”

Patients who have used Bonner General for labor have had to drive to hospitals in Coeur d’Alene or Spokane, Washington, more than 45 miles from Sandpoint.

Idaho State Capitol

Idaho State Capitol (Aaron P./Bauer-Griffin/GC Image)

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Bonner General also said the decision was made after the hospital struggled to maintain pediatrician coverage.

The hospital also noted the changing demographics of the local area, pointing out that fewer babies are being born in hospitals each year.

The hospital said it would try to continue labor and delivery services through May 19, but warned that achieving that goal hinged on its ability to staff the department.

A group protests the Supreme Court ruling in the Dobbs v. Jackson women's medical case on July 2, 2022 in Driggs, Idaho.

A group protests the Supreme Court ruling in the Dobbs v. Jackson women’s medical case on July 2, 2022 in Driggs, Idaho. (Natalie Bering/Getty Images)


“Maternity closures will not be an easy transition for our Bonner General Health team, or for our community and surrounding areas,” the hospital said.

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