Texas Sues Biden Administration: How EMTALA Prevents ‘Patient Dumping’ in a Post-Roe World

In response to the overturn of Roe, the Biden administration highlighted the role of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which states that any hospital receiving Medicare funds must screen and stabilize patients for emergency medical conditions regardless of whether or not a patient could pay. In a post-Roe world, if a physician believes a pregnant patient has an emergency medical condition as defined by EMTALA and that an abortion is necessary, the physician must provide that treatment even where state law contravenes.

By challenging EMTALA, Texas is signaling that it is okay with patient dumping—especially when those patients are pregnant.

The Supreme Court Clearly Doesn’t Care About Women’s Lives

If we pay attention to those whose lives have already been destroyed by an inability to access abortion, we can see our collective future and the depths the challenges to come. Centering the voices of those who have struggled to get care—even as we recognize the implications of Dobbs on everyone—allows us to predict at least three immediate consequences of last week’s decision.   

Coercing Rape Survivors to Be Pregnant for the State—The Texas Way

Texas has one of the nation’s highest rape rates. Shockingly, its newest near-total abortion ban contains no exceptions for rape or incest. When asked about this, Gov. Greg Abbott said, “Texas will work tirelessly to make sure that we eliminate all rapists from the streets of Texas.”

Abbott’s disturbing pledge fits in line with a tried-and-true political strategy: claim to address a public health issue by pivoting to crime control. But as history has taught us, public health crises will not be solved in the prosecutor’s office or by claiming to be tough on crime.