Supreme Court to hear cases on whether EMTALA preempts state abortion bans

A nearly 40-year old federal law requires Medicare hospitals to provide all patients experiencing a medical emergency a medical screening and stabilizing care. Whether that includes abortion has been at the center of several lawsuits in states with strict abortion bans. 

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act "finds itself on a collision course with conservative states" with strict abortion bans, as The Texas Tribune put it in an April 17 report.

On April 24, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in an Idaho case that asks whether EMTALA preempts abortion bans in certain emergency circumstances. In its lawsuit against Idaho, the Justice Department says the state's abortion ban directly conflicts with EMTALA.

The state's exceptions are too narrow (it permits abortions that treating physicians determine are necessary to prevent a patient's death), the challenge argues, while EMTALA covers a broader scope to prevent harm more wide-ranging than death and requires stabilizing treatment when harm is probable. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the argument in June, and legal experts say its decision will affect the outcomes of numerous similar cases, including one in Texas, and shape the future of state-level abortion bans. 

"Nobody was thinking about EMTALA" when Roe. v. Wade was overturned in June 2022, Sara Rosenbaum, professor emerita at the Milken School of Public Health at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., told The Texas Tribune. "Except for the handful of us who are really, really steeped in EMTALA, we knew the day would come when the states' standards would come into direct conflict with EMTALA." 

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars