US hospitals ‘must’ provide abortion services when mother’s life is at risk, Biden administration says

The Biden administration told hospitals on Monday that they “must” provide abortion services if the mother’s life is at risk.

It stated that the federal emergency treatment guidelines law anticipates state laws in jurisdictions that now prohibit the procedure without exception after the Supreme Court’s decision to end a constitutional right to abortion.

The Department of Health and Human Services cited requirements for medical facilities in the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA).

That law requires medical facilities to determine whether a person seeking treatment is in labor or facing a health emergency — or a situation that could develop into an emergency — and to provide treatment.


“If a physician believes that a pregnant patient presenting to an emergency department is experiencing a medical emergency as defined by EMTALA, and that abortion is the stabilizing treatment needed to resolve that condition, the physician treatment,” the agency’s directive states. †

“When a state law prohibits abortion and does not include an exception for the life of the pregnant person — or makes the exception stricter than EMTALA’s definition of medical emergency — that state law is preempted.”

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