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AG James Pushes Hospitals to Allow Emergency Abortions

A coalition of attorney generals wants hospitals to be able to offer abortion care during medical emergencies.
New York Attorney General Letitia James.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James on Friday spearheaded efforts to safeguard Americans' access to abortion care during medical emergencies.

Co-leading a coalition of 24 attorneys general with California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Attorney General James filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in Idaho v. U.S. and Moyle v. U.S., urging the court to maintain a preliminary injunction that required Idaho hospitals to provide emergency abortion care consistent with the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), according to a news release. 

In the brief, the coalition explains that abortion care has always been considered emergency care under EMTALA and applying Idaho’s abortion ban in medical emergencies harms Idaho residents, as well as students, workers, and visitors in Idaho, and health systems generally.

“Everyone deserves access to comprehensive reproductive and abortion care, especially in the case of life-threatening emergencies,” said James. “When these basic rights are under attack, my office will step in to fight against anti-choice decisions that endanger the lives of countless Americans. Abortion access and health care availability are about saving lives. The ban advanced by Idaho interferes with emergency medical care delivered to patients in need, and sets a chilling precedent nationwide.”  

Every hospital in the United States with an emergency department that participates in Medicare is subject to EMTALA. Under the law, emergency rooms are required to provide all patients who have an emergency medical condition with the treatment required, including administering abortion care, to stabilize a patient’s condition. The Idaho law at issue, however, criminalizes abortion care in nearly all situations, including when a pregnant patient experiences an emergency medical condition and requires an abortion to prevent serious harm to their health.

In the brief, the attorney generals said that denying patients emergency abortion care harms pregnant patients and endangers their lives. The coalition also noted that preventing physicians from providing emergency abortion care burdens healthcare systems in other states and can create a public health crisis.