The Department of Health and Human Services issued clarifying guidance Monday that says federal law preempts state abortion bans in emergency situations.
The new guidance is in response to states enacting strict anti-abortion laws following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
In a letter to healthcare providers, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra says, "As frontline health care providers, the federal EMTALA statute protects your clinical judgment and the action that you take to provide stabilizing medical treatment to your pregnant patients, regardless of the restrictions in the state where you practice."
Becerra adds that the course of treatment is up to the physician or other qualified medical personnel.
"Stabilizing treatment could include medical and/or surgical interventions (e.g., abortion, removal of one or both fallopian tubes, anti-hypertensive therapy, methotrexate therapy etc.), irrespective of any state laws or mandates that apply to specific procedures," he said.
Becerra said that hospitals that don't comply with the guidance could lose their Medicare provider agreement or face civil monetary penalties.
According to the Associated Press, abortions are banned or restricted in more than 20 states.