HHS clarifies guidelines for emergency reproductive care

July 12, 2022

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new guidance and communication to ensure all patients — including pregnant women and others experiencing pregnancy loss — have access to the full rights and protections for emergency medical care afforded under the law.

This announcement follows President Biden’s executive order on reproductive health issued Friday.

HHS, through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), issued clarifying guidance on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) and reaffirmed that it protects providers when offering legally-mandated, life- or health-saving abortion services in emergency situations. In addition to the guidance, Secretary Xavier Becerra, in a letter to providers, made clear that this federal law preempts state law restricting access to abortion in emergency situations.

“Under the law, no matter where you live, women have the right to emergency care — including abortion care,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “In no uncertain terms, we are reinforcing that we expect providers to continue offering these services, and that federal law preempts state abortion bans when needed for emergency care. Protecting both patients and providers is a top priority, particularly in this moment. We will continue to leverage all available resources at HHS to make sure women can access the life-saving care they need.”

“Everyone should have access to the healthcare they need — especially in an emergency,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “Under federal law, providers in emergency situations are required to provide stabilizing care to someone with an emergency medical condition, including abortion care if necessary, regardless of the state where they live. CMS will do everything within our authority to ensure that patients get the care they need.”

HHS release

Photo 79060266 © Susanne Neal | Dreamstime.com
Photo 37021977 © Anton Starikov | Dreamstime.com
37129089 © Tyler Olson, 26709588 © Dmitry Kalinovsky | Dreamstime.com
204557142 © Andrei Malov | Dreamstime.com