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Supreme Court to decide whether to ‘protect the fundamental rights’ of pregnant Americans

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The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) requires hospitals to provide all necessary stabilizing treatments to patients who present to their emergency rooms.

In March 2023, Virginia Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan joined 257 congressional Democrats in an amicus brief in support of the district court decision affirming that EMTALA supersedes state law.

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the consolidated cases of Idaho v. United States and Moyle v. United States, to determine if the federal EMTALA preempts Idaho’s law criminalizing most abortions in the state.

“Since Trump-appointed judges on the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, we have seen widespread attacks on reproductive freedom and an alarming rise in restrictive laws that jeopardize the health and well-being of the American people. We are in the midst of a reproductive health crisis created and exacerbated by extreme Republican politicians and conservative judges. This decision will determine patients’ ability to receive emergency medical services and will have a profound impact on health care in America,” McClellan said.

According to McClellan, EMTALA has provided patients with medical emergencies decades of peace of mind because they know they are entitled to treatment.

“That includes abortion care when that is the only option to save a patient’s life. Attempts to undermine patients’ rights to comprehensive emergency medical care are irresponsible, dangerous, and unconscionable, particularly in the nation with the highest maternal mortality rates of any high-income country in the world,” McClellan said.

The Supreme Court’s decision will finalize whether federal law will be upheld and patients’ rights protected, or federal law will be disregarded and pregnant patients will be stripped of their rights to lifesaving emergency treatment.

“I recently joined over 200 congressional Democrats in filing an amicus brief asserting that EMTALA requires hospitals to provide abortion care when it is part of necessary emergency medical treatment. Today, I reiterate that call and urge the justices to protect the fundamental rights of patients across America,” McClellan said.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.