Attorney General James Takes Action to Protect Access to Emergency Abortion Care

AG James Co-Leads Amicus Brief to Safeguard Emergency Abortion Care in States Banning Abortion

NEW YORK — New York State Attorney General Letitia James today spearheaded efforts to safeguard Americans' access to abortion care during medical emergencies. Co-leading a multistate coalition of 24 attorneys general with California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Attorney General James filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in Idaho v. U.S. and Moyle v. U.S., urging the court to maintain a preliminary injunction that required Idaho hospitals to provide emergency abortion care consistent with the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). In the brief, the coalition explains that abortion care has always been considered emergency care under EMTALA and applying Idaho’s abortion ban in medical emergencies harms Idaho residents, as well as students, workers, and visitors in Idaho, and health systems generally.

“Everyone deserves access to comprehensive reproductive and abortion care, especially in the case of life-threatening emergencies,” said Attorney General James. “When these basic rights are under attack, my office will step in to fight against anti-choice decisions that endanger the lives of countless Americans. Abortion access and health care availability are about saving lives. The ban advanced by Idaho interferes with emergency medical care delivered to patients in need, and sets a chilling precedent nationwide.”  

Every hospital in the United States with an emergency department that participates in Medicare is subject to EMTALA. Under the law, emergency rooms are required to provide all patients who have an emergency medical condition with the treatment required, including administering abortion care, to stabilize a patient’s condition. The Idaho law at issue, however, criminalizes abortion care in nearly all situations, including when a pregnant patient experiences an emergency medical condition and requires an abortion to prevent serious harm to their health.

In the brief, Attorney General James and the coalition of 24 attorneys general explain that denying patients emergency abortion care harms pregnant patients and endangers their lives. The coalition also noted that preventing physicians from providing emergency abortion care burdens healthcare systems in other states and can create a public health crisis. This brief is the third one filed in U.S. v. Idaho, after a similar brief was filed in August 2022 in support of the United States’ motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent Idaho’s near total ban on abortion from eliminating necessary emergency abortion care, and in September 2023 urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to affirm the district court’s preliminary injunction ruling. The coalition has also filed similar briefs in litigation involving EMTALA’s application to Texas’s abortion ban.

Attorney General James has been a steadfast advocate for abortion rights and abortion access. In January, Attorney General James led a coalition of 24 attorneys general urging the U.S. Supreme Court to protect access to Mifepristone, an abortion medication. Earlier this week, AG James spoke at a rally outside of the Supreme Court in support of access to Mifepristone. In December, Attorney General James secured a court order to stop militant anti-abortion group Red Rose Rescue from blocking access to abortion care in New York. In September, Attorney General James secured changes to Jefferson County Jail’s policies to protect abortion access for pregnant incarcerated individuals.  

Joining Attorney General James and California Attorney General Rob Bonta in filing today’s amicus brief are the attorneys general of Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.