Statement from Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Regarding Reproductive Rights



August 24, 2022 – The Justice Department tonight issued the following statement from Attorney General Merrick B. Garland following the U.S. District Court of the District of Idaho’s decision to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of Idaho’s ban on abortion as applied to medical care required by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). The law, Idaho Code § 18-622, prohibits abortion even when abortion is the medically necessary treatment to stabilize a patient’s emergency medical condition.

On Aug. 2, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit challenging the law on the grounds that it is preempted by EMTALA. It is set to go into effect on Thurs., Aug. 25.

“Today’s decision by the District Court for the District of Idaho ensures that women in the State of Idaho can obtain the emergency medical treatment to which they are entitled under federal law.  This includes abortion when that is the necessary treatment. As the District Court ruled, a state law that attempts to prevent a hospital from fulfilling its obligations under EMTALA violates federal law and the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

“The Department of Justice will continue to use every tool at its disposal to defend the reproductive rights protected by federal law.

“The Department disagrees with yesterday’s decision by the District Court for the Northern District of Texas, which preliminarily enjoins the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ July 11, 2022 guidance on EMTALA and Secretary Becerra’s accompanying letter as applied to the plaintiffs in that litigation. We are considering appropriate next steps.”

The Justice Department is committed to protecting access to reproductive services. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs, the Justice Department established the Reproductive Rights Task Force, chaired by Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. The Task Force is charged with protecting access to reproductive freedom under federal law. For additional information on the work of the Task Force visit www.justice.gov/reproductive-rights.