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Hirono Statement on Supreme Court’s Ruling in EMTALA Case

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released the following statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Idaho, a case concerning the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). Following the Dobbs decision in 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Idaho, arguing that the state’s anti-abortion law is preempted by EMTALA, which requires Medicare-funded hospitals to provide abortion care, not just when it is necessary to prevent the death of a patient, but also when an abortion is deemed necessary to stabilize a patient during emergency medical treatment.

“The Supreme Court has avoided cleaning up its own mess. When the conservative justices on the Court overturned Roe, chaos followed by enabling states to implement draconian abortion bans—such as the law in Idaho where patients have to be at death’s door before a doctor can treat without being criminally prosecuted.

Today, the Supreme Court shirked its responsibility to patients and providers across the country. Justice Jackson said it best, ‘This Court had a chance to bring clarity and certainty to this tragic situation and we have squandered it.’

Patients will continue to suffer and doctors will remain hamstrung in their ability to provide care for fear of prosecution. This situation will continue to sow chaos and confusion and is just one more example of the consequences of the Dobbs decision, giving control of our bodies to far-right politicians and judges.”

A long-time champion for abortion access, Senator Hirono is committed to protecting the fundamental right to reproductive health care for all. This month, Senator Hirono led eleven of her colleagues in speaking on the Senate floor in support of the Right to Contraception Act—legislation she leads with Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)—and calling out Republicans for blocking the bill. This legislation would guarantee the right for people to obtain and use contraceptives and for health providers to prescribe contraceptives, and give information related to contraception, free from government interference. In May 2024, Senator Hirono reintroduced the Access to Birth Control Act, legislation that would guarantee patients’ timely access to birth control at pharmacies nationwide—including by addressing pharmacies’ refusals of contraception that prevent patients from obtaining their preferred form of birth control medication. In March 2024, Senator Hirono reintroduced a bicameral resolution honoring abortion providers and staff by designating March 10, 2024 as “Abortion Provider Appreciation Day.”