Emergency Physicians Must Be Able to Treat Pregnant Patients Without Fear of Criminalization

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today’s Supreme Court decision temporarily removes barriers to emergency abortion care for pregnant patients in Idaho, but major concerns remain as critical litigation throughout the country continues.

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is hopeful that future court decisions clearly and emphatically reaffirm the broad patient protections that already exist in federal law under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), a bedrock principle of emergency care.

ACEP policy, Access to Reproductive Health Care in the Emergency Department, outlines the College’s commitment to equitable access to reproductive healthcare, procedures, medications and other interventions. Amicus briefs filed in 2022 in Texas and Idaho by ACEP in partnership with 22 other leading medical societies defend physician autonomy and reinforce emergency physicians’ obligations to offer stabilizing care, including abortions, when medically necessary.

As one brief said, "The devastating impact of delaying necessary care is not hypothetical, and neither are the consequences for pregnant patients...  EMTALA does not allow physicians to withhold specific treatments for nonmedical reasons. Rather, if a treatment is “required to stabilize the medical condition,” it must be made available to the patient—full stop.”

ACEP urges courts in Idaho and throughout the country to avoid restricting or undermining access to vital emergency care. Emergency physicians and care teams must be able to care for pregnant patients without fear of legal overreach into evidence-based medical decision-making.

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is the national medical society representing emergency medicine. Through continuing education, research, public education, and advocacy, ACEP advances emergency care on behalf of its 40,000 emergency physician members, and the more than 150 million people they treat on an annual basis. For more information, visit and

Contact: Steve Arnoff | | Twitter @EmergencyDocs