Case Returned to Lower Court to Decide Whether Federal EMTALA is Preempted

Washington, D.C. – Today, SCOTUS released its official ruling in the widely publicized case involving Idaho’s Defense of Life Act which was triggered by the 2022 overturn of Roe v. Wade. This week, the High Court reversed its own decision from January when it overturned a lower court’s ruling and allowed full enforcement of the law. 

The case was sent back to the liberal U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

Operation Rescue has followed this lawsuit since it was filed by the Biden administration – before the Idaho state law took effect. The DOJ’s lawsuit claims the state law conflicts with the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), requiring physicians to provide stabilizing care in emergency situations. 

Essentially, the lawsuit contends that, in some cases, the state law would prevent a hospital from performing an abortion needed to “prevent serious health harms” to the mother. 

In August 2022, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill granted a preliminary injunction that allowed mothers to obtain abortions in medical emergencies that were not necessarily life-threatening. However, SCOTUS ruled on January 5 that the state of Idaho could fully enforce the law while the legal battle plays out.  

In today’s ruling, however, SCOTUS reversed course, dissolving its previous stay on the lower court injunction. As a  result, Idaho mothers are allowed to secure abortions in emergencies that are not life-threatening but, rather, “prevent serious harms to a woman’s health.” 

“This is deeply concerning when you consider that Doe v. Bolton, Roe v. Wade’s 1973 companion case, has not been overturned,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “The word ‘health’ was defined in extremely broad terms, including emotional and psychological wellbeing. 

“This ruling, as well as the upcoming Ninth Circuit ruling, is consequential, as it represents a broader debate over state exceptions for life of the mother,” said Newman. 

“The lawsuit is attempting to obscure the definition of an emergency, thereby vastly expanding the life-of-the-mother exception. Instead, abortionists who profit from killing would be given the power to decide what constitutes an emergency. If this wasn’t such an incredibly serious and morbid subject, it would be laughable. We publish articles revealing these abortionists create medical emergencies on a regular basis – injuring, and sometimes killing, women while killing their innocent unborn babies.”

Depending on what happens in the lower court, this case could return to SCOTUS if the Ninth Circuit’s decision is appealed again. Newman adds, “We must fast and pray for an outcome at the Ninth Circuit that honors life.” 

This report may be republished with inclusion of the following acknowledgement: “This article was originally published by Operation Rescue, a leading pro-life, Christian activist organization dedicated to exposing abortion abuses, demanding enforcement, saving innocent lives, and building an abortion-free America. The author, Anne Reed, is Senior Policy Advisor for Operation Rescue.”