Judge blocks enforcement of Idaho’s abortion ban in medical emergencies day before it was set to take effect

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“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.”

The Biden administration had challenged parts of the Idaho abortion ban, which was set to go into effect Thursday, under a law known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA, which establishes emergency care requirements for certain health care providers. Winmill said Wednesday that the Justice Department is likely to succeed in its argument that the abortion ban in Idaho criminalizes abortion care that physicians are required to provide in medical emergencies under EMTALA.

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.

The exception that the abortion ban in Idaho provides for medical emergencies is one of the most limited in the country. It only applies when the health care provider believes the abortion was necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant person, and stops allowing abortions for other serious health risks that EMTALA is considering. And the law doesn’t exempt providers who provide that emergency care from a crime; rather, it allows them to put forward that justification as an affirmative defense at trial.

“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.”

The order is a victory for the Biden administration, as it had few tools at its disposal to respond to the Supreme Court’s June withdrawal of Roe v. Wade’s federal protections for abortion rights.

“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.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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