A portion of Idaho’s abortion ban has been temporarily blocked after a federal judge found that it was in violation of a law that is meant to protect patients’ rights in medical emergencies.
This week District Judge B. Lynn Winmill sided with the Department of Justice (DOJ)Idaho sued to enforce its abortion ban. It claimed that the law violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA).
The ruling does not block the enforcement of all of Idaho’s abortion restrictions. However, it provides additional protections to those whose health may be negatively affected by their pregnancy.
The Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade Idaho activated a trigger statute that prohibits abortion at any stage of pregnancy. The law does not allow for incest or rape, but patients must be informed. to provide an affirmative defenseThey can prove they are victims. Idaho’s law is also more restrictive than other statesWhen it comes to medical emergencies, exceptions are allowed. To make abortion a medical necessity, the pregnant woman must be able to prove that the pregnancy is dangerous.
In June, President Joe Biden directed that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), declare that pregnancies causing physical harm were not allowed. EMTALA covers them.No matter how serious the harm may be, it should not be ignored.
“A physician’s professional and legal duty to provide stabilizing medical treatment to a patient who… is found to have an emergency medical condition preempts any directly conflicting state law or mandate that might otherwise prohibit or prevent such treatment,” including in circumstances where “abortion is the stabilizing treatment necessary to resolve that condition,” the guidance states.
“Under the law, no matter where you live, women have the right to emergency care — including abortion care,” Xavier Becerra, Secretary at HHS, said in a statement shortly after the guidance was published.
The DOJ sued Idaho claiming that the state’s abortion law was illegally limited to life-threatening medical emergencies. Winmill agreed with that notion, and placed a temporary injunction on that part of the state’s law until a further decision could be made.
“Allowing the criminal abortion ban to take effect, without a cutout for EMTALA-required care, would inject tremendous uncertainty into precisely what care is required (and permitted) for pregnant patients who present in Medicare-funded emergency rooms with emergency medical conditions,” Winmill said in his ruling, adding:
The clear and intended effect of Idaho’s criminal abortion law is to curb abortion as a form of medical care. This extends to emergency situations, obstructing EMTALA’s purpose. Idaho’s choice to impose severe and sweeping sanctions that decrease the overall availability of emergency abortion care flies in the face of Congress’s deliberate decision to do the opposite.
The injunction blocks officials in Idaho “from initiating any criminal prosecution against, attempting to suspend or revoke the professional license of, or seeking to impose any other form of liability on, any medical provider or hospital,” if an abortion is considered necessary to avoid pregnancy-related harm to the health of a patient.
Federal judges in other jurisdictions have rejected EMTALA defenses that were put forward by DOJ, even in Texas.
The DOJ is expected to appeal the Texas rulingThe 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, while Idaho is expected to appeal Winmill’s ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit.