Missouri Woman Files Federal Complaint Against Hospitals She Says Denied Emergency Abortion

The National Women’s Law Center on Monday filed a federal civil rights complaint against hospitals in Missouri, Kansas and Illinois for denying a Joplin woman life-saving abortion care last year after her water broke at 18 weeks of pregnancy.

The complaint, filed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights on behalf of Joplin resident Mylissa Farmer, alleges that the hospitals discriminated against her based on her sex, according to a news release.

The release did not say which hospitals the organization filed the complaint against. But Farmer has publicly talked about how she was denied an emergency abortion at Joplin’s Freeman Health System in August of last year. Farmer said last year that her water broke early during her pregnancy, putting her health at risk.


“Abortion is time sensitive and sometimes life-saving health care,” Michelle Barker, Farmer’s attorney and the director of reproductive rights and health litigation at, The National Women’s Law Center, said in a statement. “When a hospital offers emergency care to everyone but refuses to provide emergency care that only pregnant people need, that is sex discrimination, pure and simple.”

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, a 1986 federal law, prohibits hospitals with emergency departments from refusing to treat people with an emergency medical condition.


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