“This court is not wrestling with” the bigger questions of the right to abortion, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill wrote when issuing a preliminary injunction. “Rather, the Court is being called upon to address a much more modest issue — whether Idaho’s criminal abortion statute violates a small but important piece of federal law. It does.”
In summary, given the extraordinarily broad scope of Idaho Code § 18-622, neither the state nor the legislature have convinced the Court that it is possible for health professionals to fulfill their obligations under the EMTALA and Idaho law simultaneously,” he said. the judge. wrote. “State law must therefore give way to federal law to the extent of that conflict.”
The Idaho Attorney General’s office declined to comment Wednesday on CNN’s question whether it planned to appeal the injunction.
“Where an abortion is the necessary stabilizing treatment, EMTALA directs physicians to provide that care if they reasonably expect that the patient’s condition will result in severe impairment of bodily functions, severe dysfunction of any body organ or part, or serious danger to the patient’s health,” the judge wrote. “The criminal abortion statute, on the other hand, does not allow such an exception. It only justifies abortions that, in the opinion of the treating physician, are necessary to prevent the patient’s death.”
“Today’s decision by the District Court for the District of Idaho ensures that women in the state of Idaho can receive emergency medical treatment to which they are entitled under federal law. This includes abortion when necessary treatment,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement on Wednesday.
In a dueling case that arose out of Texas, a federal judge pushed back the government’s interpretation of EMTALA as abortion care in medical emergencies. In that case, the judge issued a preliminary injunction Tuesday night against the administration, preventing it from enforcing EMTALA in Texas and against an organization of doctors who had joined Texas to challenge the government’s policies.
This story was updated on Wednesday with additional details.