Moyle v. United States

Last modified 2024.03.28

  • Status Ongoing
  • Type Amicus
  • Court U.S. Supreme Court
  • Issues Abortion, Abortion Access, Denial of Healthcare, Fighting Discrimination

Case Documents

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) requires Medicare-funded hospitals to provide “necessary stabilizing treatment” for any patient experiencing a medical emergency, regardless of the patient’s background or ability to pay. For pregnant patients, necessary stabilizing treatment can include emergency abortion care. By requiring that hospitals provide all patients with the requisite standard of emergency care, EMTALA plays a critical role in addressing health disparities nationwide and ameliorating the country’s maternal health crisis.

Now, EMTALA’s vital protections are at risk. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Idaho passed a draconian abortion ban that criminalizes nearly all abortions with the exception of abortions necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant person. In August 2022, the Biden Administration sued to stop the ban from taking effect, arguing that it unlawfully conflicts with EMTALA by criminalizing emergency abortion care otherwise required under the federal law.

A flurry of litigation followed. First, a federal district court agreed with the Biden Administration that the ban conflicts with EMTALA and blocked the Idaho ban from going into effect. Then, after the defendants appealed, a three-member panel of the Ninth Circuit put the district-court decision on hold and reinstated the abortion ban. Shortly thereafter, the full Ninth Circuit reversed course and blocked the ban from taking effect pending an appeal. Finally, on January 5, 2024, the Supreme Court intervened, granting a request from Idaho and its legislature to once again put the district court’s decision on hold and allow the ban to take effect.

On March 28, 2024, Americans United, along with the National Women’s Law Center and allied groups, filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court. The brief explains that EMTALA guarantees everyone the right to emergency medical treatment nationwide, including pregnant people who may require abortion care to stabilize emergency medical conditions. Idaho’s abortion ban directly conflicts with this nearly 40-year-old federal law, endangering the health and lives of pregnant people, especially Black, Indigenous and other people of color, LGBTQ+ people, people working to make ends meet, and others who already face excessive barriers to health care.

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