STATEMENT: SCOTUS punts on protecting women’s health in Idaho abortion ban case

June 27. 2024


For Immediate Release
Jun 27, 2024

Media Contact
Nazirah Ahmad
[email protected]

A statement from Equal Rights Advocates Executive Director Noreen Farrell:

The Supreme Court has refused to rule on the merits of whether the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act preempts Idaho’s extreme abortion ban in Moyle v. United States. Instead, in a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that it should not have stepped in to stay a lower court injunction of the Idaho Defense of Life Act law as it relates to emergency abortion care regulated by the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA).

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed this lawsuit against Idaho in August 2022, seeking an injunction to allow patients to receive emergency abortions, as required under this federal law. A lower court granted the injunction, but anti-abortion politicians appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, which lifted the injunction and took the case in January. 

While the Court’s decision means that patients in Idaho can receive emergency abortions pending the lower court litigation, Justice Jackson’s concurring opinion emphasizes that “today’s decision is not a victory for pregnant patients in Idaho, it is delay.” 

The Court has sidestepped the chance to confirm EMTALA’s preemption of state abortion bans, in Idaho and other states. The Court’s inaction on the merits of EMTALA’s preemption leaves health care providers confused about their legal mandates and patients terrified to seek emergency care in Idaho and beyond. 

This punt only heightens the havoc caused by its decision two years ago in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization dismantling the constitutional right to abortion. The Dobbs ruling unleashed a cascade of legal attacks on women’s rights, with dire consequences. Twenty-one states now ban abortion or restrict the procedure earlier in pregnancy than the standard set by Roe v. Wade five decades ago. They are not stopping with abortion procedure bans. Abortion medication is under attack in states across the country. Senate Republicans have blocked bills that would guarantee access to contraception nationwide. The Alabama Supreme Court temporarily suspended the practice of IVF in the state after it ruled that embryos are the same as children under state law, and it is one of 13 states that have so-called personhood laws threatening IVF treatments.

 

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