WSHA responds to Gov. Inslee’s directive on emergency reproductive services

June 11, 2024

Gov. Inslee announced June 11 that he is directing the state Department of Health (DOH) to reaffirm and clarify state law requirements for hospitals to provide emergency abortion services. He made this directive in anticipation of a Supreme Court ruling in the Idaho Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) case, titled Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States. The case centers on the conflict between Idaho’s Defense of Life Act and federal EMTALA, leaving providers in limbo or at risk of prosecution for assisting someone with an ectopic pregnancy, experiencing a miscarriage, or facing other life threatening or serious health emergency pregnancy complications.

Washington state hospitals are already required by state law to provide emergency care to people experiencing these types of pregnancy complications. Washington hospitals are providing this care, including to people who have crossed the border from Idaho in need of care. There is no evidence that Washington hospitals are not providing appropriate emergency care. Washington has strong state laws in place protecting patients seeking emergency pregnancy-related care and health care providers delivering these vital services.

Washington hospitals are committed to providing emergency services for all conditions. It is our duty and privilege to provide excellent, comprehensive care for people in all kinds of emergency situations. Washington hospitals are committed to and support both state law in emergencies and the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.

Hospitals’ commitment to emergency care includes a commitment to providing a whole host of services to which some people might apply a moral character. This includes not just emergency pregnancy-related services, but also drug overdoses, injuries sustained in fights, sexual-related emergencies, services to undocumented immigrants and many other services that some people have said hospitals should not provide. Our core mission is healing. We disagree with any limitations on hospital provision of emergency services.

Read WSHA’s full statement on our website, which cites our state’s laws.


Cassie Sauer
WSHA President & CEO


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