According to a 2022 report from If/When/How, between 2000 and 2020, nearly half of cases of individuals self-managing or helping someone self-manage an abortion that “came to the attention of law enforcement” were reported to police by health care providers.


Hospitals have no obligation or right to hold patients against their will, Paltrow clarifies, but since so many are misinformed about the extent of their liability under abortion bans—hence the current lawsuit happening in Texas—they end up taking advantage of patients being “easily intimidated by doctors and hospital staff.” Sometimes, Paltrow added, insurance coverage is even used as leverage against patients, who are told—incorrectly—that a service or procedure won’t be covered if they leave the hospital against medical advice.

Across states with abortion bans, hospitals have become plagued with confusion and anxiety, as we saw last month when a study out of Oklahoma found most hospitals couldn’t provide clear answers about the acceptable circumstances to render abortion care. Amid this confusion, some healthcare providers—like Hogan’s—seem confused about whether they can even permit patients to leave if they might obtain abortions. “If I was the hospital general counsel and I was looking at these laws, I have absolutely no idea what my physician could or could not do in any particular circumstance,” one attorney for an Oklahoma hospital told CNN.


When Roe was overturned, it “opened doors for states to create further restrictions on pregnant people in the name of fetal rights,” Diaz-Tello told Jezebel, and “determine the care or freedoms someone has based on the effects it might have on the fetus.”

The threat of legal fetal personhood only renders pregnant people more vulnerable to possible detainment and legal troubles. Today, abortion bans encourage and arguably even pressure hospitals and law enforcement agencies to do whatever they can to protect a fetus—even if this means holding pregnant people prisoner.