US Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Idaho Abortion Case

(Oregon Right to Life) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday heard oral arguments in an abortion-related case brought by the state of Idaho against the federal government. The major case is the latest of only two dealing with abortion to come before the nation’s highest court since the reversal of Roe v. Wade in 2022.

The U.S. Supreme Court presented a divided front Wednesday when considering the case, which could see emergency room physicians compelled by the federal government to perform abortions under some circumstances. 

The case came before the Court after the Biden administration said that the 1986 Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) would override Idaho’s pro-life law, the Defense of Life Act, in certain emergency medical situations. The EMTALA requires hospitals to stabilize patients with serious or life-threatening medical conditions, and pertains to all hospitals that accept Medicare. 

Following the rollback of Roe v. Wade in June 2022, the federal government, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service, has asserted that pro-life laws in states like Idaho are superseded by the federal statute. Under the government’s reading of the act, abortion can sometimes be “stabilizing care.” 

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In August 2022, a federal judge agreed with the Biden administration, deciding that Idaho could not enforce its law limiting nearly all abortions in the state. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit then upheld the judge’s order, leading Idaho to bring its complaint to the U.S. Supreme Court with representation from attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).

In Moyle v. United States, Idaho argues that the Biden administration’s interpretation of the EMTALA goes too far, and that the act does not conflict with existing Idaho law. In its argument, the state asserts that “EMTALA operates within the menu of lawful treatments in a particular state and available at a particular hospital, requiring hospitals to offer stabilizing care from that menu. It neither authorizes nor requires hospitals to violate state law.”

ADF president, CEO, and general counsel Kristen Waggoner said the “Biden administration lacks the authority to override Idaho’s law and force emergency room doctors to perform abortions.”

“There is no conflict between Idaho’s Defense of Life Act and EMTALA. Both Idaho’s law and EMTALA seek to protect the lives of women and their unborn children,” she said. “The Supreme Court should end the Biden administration’s lawlessness and uphold Idaho’s rightful authority to protect life.”

Attorneys representing Idaho also argue that any emergency procedure carried out by doctors  to assist patients who are pregnant “would either be necessary to save their lives or would not be abortions at all.” 

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Current Idaho law excludes nearly all abortions with a few narrow exceptions, including procedures carried out to save the life of the mother. 

In the ADF’s brief before the Supreme Court, attorneys pointed out that the EMTALA does not conflict with Idaho law since “[t]reatments for ectopic and molar pregnancies are not abortions under Idaho law. And conditions like preeclampsia, eclampsia, and HELLP Syndrome are ‘life-threatening situation[s]’ for which Idaho law allows ‘life-saving surgery’ or ‘early delivery.’”

“Forcing emergency room doctors to act as abortionists is illegal and unjust,” Live Action president and founder Lila Rose said. “Medicine heals. Abortion kills. Abortion is not emergency medicine, and federal law does not require abortion in situations of a medical emergency.”

“I implore the Supreme Court to follow the law, and allow Idaho’s law to stand,” Rose said.

Oregon Right to Life believes in the sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death. Abortion ends the life of a genetically distinct, growing human being. We oppose abortion at any point of gestation. In rare cases, a mother may have a life threatening condition in which medical procedures intended to treat the condition of the mother may result in the unintended death of her preborn baby. At the same time, ORTL recognizes that modern medical practice has and will continue to increase the ability to save both the life of the mother and the baby. Read this and all of our position statements here.


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