Idaho Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Halt Abortion Ruling
Idaho officials have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to temporarily stop a federal judge’s decision blocking the state’s near-total abortion ban. This comes after a legal challenge by Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration.
Sparked by the state’s Republican leaders, the request seeks to pause U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill’s ruling, which prevents Idaho from enforcing its abortion restrictions during medical emergencies. The judge concluded that these restrictions conflicted with a federal law guaranteeing patients access to emergency “stabilizing care.”
After the Supreme Court’s conservative majority overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, Idaho’s Republican-led legislature and governor automatically implemented a “trigger” law that bans all abortions except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger. This law, known as the Defense of Life Act, was passed in 2020.
In response to this, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, under Biden’s direction, issued federal guidance emphasizing that a 1986 U.S. law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act takes precedence over state abortion bans. The law requires hospitals to “stabilize” patients with emergency medical conditions.
Amid these developments, the Biden administration sued Idaho over its trigger law, arguing that it conflicted with the 1986 law because the federal statute could potentially require abortions that would not be included under Idaho’s narrow exception for saving the mother’s life.
In August 2022, Winmill agreed, blocking the Idaho law from being enforced in cases where abortions are needed to avoid putting the woman’s health in “serious jeopardy” or risking “serious impairment to bodily functions.”
The legal battle over abortion restrictions extends beyond Idaho. The administration has also faced opposition in Texas, where a U.S. District Judge preliminarily blocked the federal government from requiring healthcare providers to perform abortions for emergency room patients when it conflicts with the Republican-backed Texas abortion ban.
With these developments, the fight over abortion rights is intensifying, with both Idaho and Texas at the center of a legal and ideological clash.