On March 28, 2024, the National Women’s Law Center, along with our law firm partner, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, and In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, and 98 other organizations, filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the consolidated cases Idaho v. United States and Moyle v. United States, in support of continued access to emergency abortion care.

In these cases, the federal government challenged Idaho’s total abortion ban to the extent it conflicts with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), a federal law that requires Medicare-funded hospitals to treat anyone experiencing an emergency medical condition with stabilizing care. The lawsuit argues that Idaho’s abortion ban, which criminalizes nearly all forms of abortion except those that are “necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman” and in some cases of rape and incest, is narrower than EMTALA, which requires hospitals to provide emergency abortion care when needed to stabilize a patient whose health is in serious jeopardy, even if that care is not clearly “necessary” to prevent their “death.” The federal government sued to block the law to the extent it criminalizes care required by federal law. A lower court blocked that law in August 2022, and in January 2024, the Supreme Court took the extraordinary step of bypassing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, deciding to hear the case this term and allowing Idaho’s abortion ban to go fully into effect.

Our brief explains the devastation that would be wrought by a holding that states can carve pregnant patients out of the full scope of EMTALA’s protections. The brief explains that EMTALA’s plain text has always required hospitals to provide emergency abortion care when necessary to stabilize a pregnant patient’s emergency medical condition, and a decision contrary to that would deepen the United States’ maternal health crisis, particularly for Black, Indigenous, immigrant, rural, and low-income communities. The brief urges the Court to reject Idaho’s novel arguments, which would decimate treatment options for pregnant patients experiencing emergencies and further accelerate the exodus of health care providers from areas already considered pregnancy-care deserts, making pregnancy in this country even more dangerous than it already is.

To read our amicus brief, please click here.