July 25th, 2024

The Supreme Court seems poised to allow emergency abortions in Idaho, a Bloomberg News report says

By Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press on June 26, 2024.

The Supreme Court building is seen, Wednesday, June 26, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court appears poised to allow emergency abortions in Idaho when a pregnant patient’s health is at serious risk, according to Bloomberg News, which said a copy of the opinion briefly posted Wednesday on the court’s website.

The document suggests the court will conclude that it should not have gotten involved in the case so quickly and will reinstate a court order that had allowed hospitals in the state to perform emergency abortions to protect a pregnant patient’s health, Bloomberg said. The document was quickly removed from the website.

The Supreme Court acknowledged that a document was inadvertently posted Wednesday.

“The Court’s Publications Unit inadvertently and briefly uploaded a document to the Court’s website. The Court’s opinion in Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States will be issued in due course,” court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said in a statement.

The case would continue at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals if the high court dismisses proceedings.

The finding may not be the court’s final ruling, since it has not been officially released.

The Biden administration had sued Idaho, arguing that hospitals must provide abortions to stabilize pregnant patients in rare emergency cases when their health is at serious risk.

Most Republican-controlled states began enforcing restrictions after the court overturned Roe v. Wade two years ago.

Idaho is among 14 states that outlaw abortion at all stages of pregnancy with very limited exceptions. It said that its ban does allow abortions to save a pregnant patient’s life and federal law doesn’t require the exceptions to expand.

The Supreme Court had previously allowed the measure to go into effect, even in medical emergencies, while the case played out. Several women have since needed medical airlifts out of state in cases in which abortion is routine treatment to avoid infection, hemorrhage and other dire health risks, Idaho doctors have said.

The high court’s eventual ruling is expected to have ripple effects on emergency care in other states with strict abortion bans. Already, reports of pregnant women being turned away from U.S. emergency rooms spiked following the high court’s 2022 ruling overturning the constitutional right to abortion, according to federal documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The Justice Department’s lawsuit came under a federal law that requires hospitals accepting Medicare to provide stabilizing care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. It’s called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA.

Nearly all hospitals accept Medicare, so emergency room doctors in Idaho and other states with bans would have to provide abortions if needed to stabilize a pregnant patient and avoid serious health risks like loss of reproductive organs, the Justice Department argued.

Idaho argued that its exception for a patient’s life covers dire health circumstances and that the Biden administration misread the law to circumvent the state ban and expand abortion access.

Doctors have said that Idaho’s law has made them fearful to perform abortions, even when a pregnancy is putting a patient’s health severely at risk. The law requires anyone who is convicted of performing an abortion to be imprisoned for at least two years.

A federal judge initially sided with the Democratic administration and ruled that abortions were legal in medical emergencies. After the state appealed, the Supreme Court allowed the law to go fully into effect in January.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court at https://apnews.com/hub/us-supreme-court.

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