November 28, 2023

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Idaho on Tuesday over the state’s abortion “start-up” law that takes effect later this month and would ban most abortions in the state.

Idaho, which passed its enabling law in 2020, was one of several states that took place passage such a law that would ban most abortions within the state if the US Supreme Court were to send the abortion issue back to the states by overturning Roe v. Wade. With the Court’s recent reversal decision RoeIdaho’s abortion ban will go into effect on August 25.

Under Idaho’s “start-up” law’s abortion ban, performing an abortion would become a felony. The law provides affirmative defenses for abortion providers in cases of incest, rape, and to save the life of a pregnant woman. However, the law excludes cases where a doctor believes a pregnant woman will harm herself if the abortion procedure is not performed.

Deputy Attorney General Vanita Gupta argued that Idaho’s law is preempted by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). Under EMTALA, any hospital that received federal Medicare funds must provide “necessary stabilization therapy to patients who arrive at their emergency departments experiencing a medical emergency,” the DOJ complaint states. he said.

The DOJ’s lawsuit against Idaho is the first since Biden announced the Reproductive Rights Task Force, headed by Gupta, following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe.

“The complaint alleges that the Idaho law runs afoul of EMTALA because it presumptively criminalizes all abortions, making it a felony for doctors to provide emergency care required by federal law, even when the denial of care might result in the death of the pregnant woman patient. ” Gupta he said.

Gupta he argued the law places medical professionals “in an impossible position” because they “must either refuse EMTALA-required stabilization treatment or risk felony prosecution and license revocation.

Under Idaho law, health care providers who perform illegal abortions can face two to five years in prison and have their medical licenses revoked.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said:

Today, the Justice Department’s message is clear — it doesn’t matter in which state a hospital subject to EMTALA operates. If a patient enters the emergency room with a medical emergency, endangering the patient’s life or health, the hospital must provide the necessary treatment to stabilize that patient. This includes abortion, and this is the necessary treatment.

According to the DOJ’s complaint:

Thus, Idaho’s abortion law would prevent doctors from performing abortions even when the doctor determines that the abortion is medically necessary to prevent a serious risk to the patient’s health and even in cases where the refusal care may result in death for the pregnant patient. To the extent that Idaho law prohibits physicians from providing medically necessary treatment, including abortions, that EMTALA requires as a medical emergency, Idaho’s new abortion law directly conflicts with EMTALA.

The DOJ is asking a federal court to issue a declaratory judgment that finds the law unconstitutional and prohibits Idaho from penalizing health care providers who perform abortions within the state. The agency is also asking the court for an injunction barring enforcement of the Idaho law “to the extent it conflicts with and prevents physicians from providing the emergency treatment required by federal law.”

Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) called the DOJ’s lawsuit “another example of [President Joe] Biden’s exaggerations” in a statement issued after the complaint was filed by the Ministry of Justice. Little said:

Our nation’s highest court has returned the issue of abortion to the states to regulate – end of story. The US Justice Department’s meddling with Idaho’s pro-life law is yet another example of Biden overreaching yet again while continuing to ignore issues that really should demand his attention — like crash inflation and open borders with Mexico.

Governor Little also pledged to work with the Idaho attorney general to defend the law in court.

“Here in Idaho, we are proud to have led the nation in protecting preborn life,” Little said. “I will continue to work with Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to vigorously support state sovereignty and defend Idaho’s laws in the face of federal interference.”

The case is United States v. Idaho, No. 1:22-cv-00329-BLW in the United States District Court for the District of Idaho.

Jordan Dixon-Hamilton is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at or follow him Twitter.

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