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Washington State News

Ferguson Argues Idaho’s Near-Total Abortion Ban Violates Federal Law

SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general to file a friend of the court brief supporting the U.S. Department of Justice’s lawsuit challenging Idaho’s restrictive new abortion law. The law is set to go into effect later this month.
The lawsuit asserts that because Idaho’s law does not have adequate exemptions for emergency, lifesaving care to protect the health of pregnant people, it violates the federal Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA). EMTALA requires hospitals to provide emergency care to all patients. Patients cannot be turned away or denied care until they are stabilized. In some cases, such lifesaving care may include abortion care — for example, when a patient is experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, a miscarriage or other pregnancy complications.
Ferguson argues that Washington’s health care system will be further strained by an influx of patients traveling to Washington for health care that will be prohibited in Idaho. Ferguson also argues that Idaho’s restrictive new law denies Washingtonians federally required emergency care if they are in Idaho as students, workers or visitors.
“We are already seeing a significant influx of Idahoans seeking abortion services in Washington, and that will only increase with this new, restrictive law,” Ferguson said. “What happens in Idaho directly impacts Washington. Not only is Idaho’s near-total ban on abortion wrong, it violates federal law.”
Ferguson also joined a second friend of the court brief today defending EMTALA in a case filed by the state of Texas and several anti-abortion organizations challenging the federal government’s ability to enforce the federal law in Texas.
Texas’ lawsuit seeks to block enforcement of guidance from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Department of Health & Human Services reminding hospitals of their obligations under EMTALA.