Oregon Defends Abortion Access in Idaho and Texas

August 16, 2022
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Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today joined 21 state Attorneys General in filing two “friend of the court” briefs—one in Idaho and one in Texas courts — defending abortion access for millions of Americans. One supports the federal government’s lawsuit to prevent Idaho’s near-total abortion ban from interfering with medically necessary emergency abortions.  The other opposes arguments by Texas that states can prohibit emergency abortions regardless of federal law.

“Abortion bans indisputably put health—and that can include lives—at risk. As a border state with Idaho, we know that increased demand for abortion services in Oregon is already occurring. Anyone who is pregnant must have access to quality care no matter where they reside, especially in emergency circumstances,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “A miscarriage or other pregnancy complication can quickly turn into an emergency that requires time-sensitive treatment, including abortion.”

In both briefs, the state Attorneys General underscore that every hospital with an emergency department and that participates in Medicare is subject to the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act ( EMTALA.) Under that law, emergency rooms must provide stabilizing treatment for all patients with an emergency medical condition. Many patients seek emergency medical care due to pregnancy-related emergencies that potentially require abortion care, including ectopic pregnancy, hemorrhage, amniotic fluid embolism, pre-labor rupture of membranes, intrauterine fetal death, and hypertension. Decades of federal guidance and judicial interpretation have held that stabilizing treatment required under EMTALA includes emergency abortion care.

The state attorneys general legal brief filed in Idaho argues that the Idaho abortion law violates EMTALA by banning medically necessary emergency abortion care. Delaying life-saving emergency treatment is extremely risky because physicians cannot easily predict at which point during a medical emergency a pregnant patient’s life may become imminently threatened.

In the Texas brief, the coalition of attorneys general cite a 600% increase in Texas residents seeking abortions following the passage of the state’s extreme ban.  Doctors in Texas report postponing care “until a patient’s health or pregnancy complication has deteriorated to the point that their life was in danger, including multiple cases where patients were sent home, only to return once they were in sepsis.”

In addition to Oregon, both briefs were joined by California, New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, and the District of Columbia.