Supreme Court allows Idaho to enforce its strict abortion ban, even in medical emergencies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Friday allowed Idaho to enforce its strict ban on abortion, even in medical emergencies, as the legal fight continues.

The justices said they would hear arguments in April and stayed a lower court ruling that had blocked Idaho’s law on hospital emergencies, based on a lawsuit filed by the Biden administration.

Hospitals that receive Medicare funds are required by federal law to provide emergency care, which could include abortion, regardless of whether there is a state law prohibiting abortion, the administration argued.

The legal fight followed the court’s decision overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to severely restrict or ban abortion. The Biden administration issued guidance on the lawthe Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA, two weeks after the high court ruled in 2022. The Democratic administration sued Idaho a month later.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in Idaho agreed with the administration. But in a separate case in Texas, a judge sided with the state.

Idaho criminalizes a prison sentence of up to five years for anyone who performs or assists in the performance of an abortion.

But the administration argues EMTALA Requires health care providers to perform abortions on emergency room patients when necessary to treat an emergency medical condition, even if doing so would conflict with a state’s abortion restrictions.

Those conditions include severe bleeding, preeclampsia, and certain pregnancy-related infections.

“For certain medical emergencies, abortion care is the necessary stabilizing treatment,” Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in an administrative filing with the Supreme Court.

The state argued that the administration was misusing a law intended to prevent hospitals from abandoning patients and imposing “a federal abortion mandate” on states. “EMTALA says nothing about abortion,” Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador told the court in a brief.

Just Tuesday, the federal appeals court in New Orleans reached the same conclusion as Labrador. A three-judge panel ruled that the administration cannot use EMTALA to require Texas hospitals to perform abortions on women whose lives are at risk due to pregnancy. Two of the three judges are appointed by President Donald Trump and the other was appointed by another Republican president, George W. Bush.

The appeals court upheld a ruling by U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix, also a Trump appointee. Hendrix wrote that adopting the Biden administration’s view would force doctors to put the health of the pregnant person before that of the fetus or embryo, although EMTALA is “silent on abortion.”

After Winmill, appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton, issued his ruling, Idaho lawmakers obtained an order allowing the law to be fully enforced by an all-Republican Trump-appointed panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. USA. But a larger contingent of Ninth Circuit judges threw out the panel’s ruling and set arguments in the case for late January.

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