Press Release

Cooley, ACLU File Amicus Brief in Idaho Emergency Abortion Care Case

March 29, 2024

San Francisco – March 29, 2024 – Cooley, alongside the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and ACLU of Idaho, filed an amicus brief with the US Supreme Court on March 28 in Idaho and Moyle, et al. v. United States in support of allowing emergency abortion care to any patient who needs it. Lawyers Kathleen Hartnett and Patrick Hayden led the Cooley team.

In August 2022, the Department of Justice sued Idaho, arguing that the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) preempts Idaho’s Defense of Life Act, which prohibits abortion care even when necessary to protect the health of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency. A district court enjoined enforcement of the act, but Idaho’s attorney general and legislature appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court, which took the case in January 2024.

The amicus brief explains that Idaho’s arguments contravene the plain text of the EMTALA, which preempts state laws that would deny necessary stabilizing treatment – including abortion care – to all individuals who arrive at hospitals experiencing medical emergencies. The amicus brief notes that all three branches of the federal government have long recognized that hospitals are required under federal law to provide emergency abortion care to any patient who needs it.

“The EMTALA provides important and long-standing protections for all patients with emergency conditions and has no carve out for the rare circumstances in which emergency abortion care is required,” said Hartnett. “If doctors are prevented from providing emergency abortion care, people can suffer severe, life-altering health consequences and even die. We are urging the Supreme Court to ensure hospitals can continue to provide the emergency care federal law requires.”

The case is Idaho and Moyle, et al. v. United States in the Supreme Court (docket number 23-726). The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on this case on April 24, 2024, and a decision is expected by the summer.

Read the brief

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