In 1990, the United States Congress passed the Patient Self-Determination Act which, among other things, requires medical providers to inform patients about their right to execute an advance directive. This landmark Act helped to ensure that a patient’s right to make an informed decision of their health care was protected, even in the event of incapacity.

However, nearly 30 years after the Patient Self-Determination Act was initially passed, to this day, in many states in the U.S., a woman’s advance directive is automatically invalidated if she is pregnant. This exemption is commonly referred to as a “Pregnancy Exclusion Clause.”

Compassion & Choices fully believes in the autonomy of all people, regardless of whether or not they are or are not pregnant, when making their health care decisions.

On May 31, 2018, in coordination with Legal Voice, a non-profit dedicated to advocating for women’s health care rights, we filed a Complaint in the U.S. District Court for Idaho arguing that the Pregnancy Exclusion Clause in Idaho’s advance directive law is unconstitutional.

After the Attorney General of Idaho moved the court to dismiss the case, Compassion & Choices filed their Response to Motion to Dismiss.

On March 28, 2019, the U.S. District Court for Idaho filed their Memorandum Opinion and Order, dismissing the case. Compassion & Choices immediately began working on a Motion for Reconsideration, which was filed with the court on April 11, 2019.

On May 2, 2019, the defendants filed a Response to our Motion for Reconsideration, which Compassion & Choices replied to on May 16, 2019. Unfortunately, the court denied our Motion for Reconsideration on June 17, 2019. After that denial, on July 17, 2019, we filed an Amended Complaint. The Idaho Attorney General filed a Motion to Dismiss our Complaint on August 9th, which the court denied on November 8th.

The case is still on going, and Compassion & Choices continues to work diligently to protect the health care decision-making rights of all people. It is simply unfathomable that, in 2020, a woman’s health care directive can be tossed aside if she is pregnant.

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