Abortion Is Health Care
January 24, 2024
The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), a federal law, requires that hospitals provide stabilizing care – including abortions – to patients in medical emergencies. But apparently, in Texas, it doesn’t. In early January, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Texas hospitals can refuse to provide life-saving abortions despite EMTALA. In other words, the court ruled that Texas’ state abortion ban overrides federal law.
Texas’ ruling gives credence to conservative law firm Alliance Defending Freedom’s medically incorrect and ethically repugnant belief that abortions are never medically necessary because every abortion ends “fetal life.” Doctors believe otherwise: terminating pregnancy can be the medically necessary course of action in conditions including “preterm premature rupture of membranes, placental abruption, sepsis or heavy bleeding.” To many, EMTALA protections are a matter of life or death.
Unfortunately, threats to EMTALA aren’t isolated to Texas. The Supreme Court announced that it would hear arguments in an Idaho case weighing similar questions about EMTALA, which could ultimately affect abortion access nationwide. In the meantime, Idaho is allowed to outlaw abortions that are considered life-saving emergency care.
We at the Woodhull Freedom Foundation are devastated by the Texas decision. We firmly believe that abortion is a human right integral to our right to sexual freedom, and EMTALA does critical work in protecting that right.