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Emergency Medical Care for Women and Their Preborn Children Affirmed by Bishop Burbidge After Supreme Court Decision


WASHINGTON - “The Catholic faith and Catholic hospitals unequivocally allow for procedures that are necessary to save the life of a pregnant mother in a medical emergency, even when they tragically result in the unintended loss of her preborn child,” Bishop Michael F. Burbidge explained in addressing Thursday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In dismissing Moyle v. United States without addressing the merits, the Court, for now, leaves in place a lower court ruling that the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) can in certain circumstances override state laws that protect preborn lives. Bishop Burbidge continued, “EMTALA was enacted to ensure access to emergency medical care for low-income persons, especially pregnant mothers, and the law expressly protects both the mother and her preborn child. Catholic hospitals have thus faithfully and effectively cared for patients under this law for decades, and we will work and pray to ensure that they remain free to do so. EMTALA should not be newly misconstrued to override state laws protecting life nor misunderstood to mandate the performance of direct abortions – which are always wrong – as opposed to morally acceptable procedures that are necessary to preserve a mother’s life but tragically would result in a loss of her child. We will continue to advocate for policies and practices that offer the best and most accessible care, especially in the most difficult of cases, to both women and preborn children.”

Bishop Burbidge of Arlington is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities. The USCCB joined an amicus curiae brief in this litigation which may be read here.