Idaho sees first post-Roe litigation case

The Department of Justice has filed a ground breaking lawsuit arguing that Idaho’s near-total abortion ban violates federal law, NBC reports

This is the first legal action to protect abortion rights since the decision to overturn the 1973 Roe vs Wade was made by the Supreme Court in June.

Announcing the lawsuit, Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters, “Idaho’s ban violates a federal law that requires medical providers to offer emergency medical treatment”.

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) states that every hospital in the U.S. that receives Medicare funds must provide “necessary stabilizing treatment to patients who arrive at their emergency departments while experiencing a medical emergency”. In some circumstances, the necessary medical treatment is an abortion.

“This may be the case, for example, when a woman is undergoing a miscarriage that threatens septic infection or haemorrhage, or is suffering from severe preeclampsia,” Attorney General Garland said.

On 25th August in Idaho, the law is set to “make it a felony to perform an abortion in all but extremely narrow circumstances, including when doctors provide emergency medical treatment required by federal law”.

The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment stating that Idaho’s law “violates the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause and is pre-empted and conflicts with federal law”. It also seeks a judgment that Idaho “may not initiate a prosecution against or attempt to revoke the professional license of any medical provider who performs an abortion authorized under federal law”.

Attorney General Garland says, “In the days since the Dobbs decision, there have been widespread reports of delays and denials of treatment to pregnant women experiencing medical emergencies”.

“Today, the Justice Department’s message is clear — it does not matter what state a hospital subject to EMTALA operates in. If a patient comes into the emergency room with a medical emergency, jeopardizing the patient’s life or health, the hospital must provide the treatment necessary to stabilize that patient. This includes abortion, when that is the necessary treatment.”

Republican, Governor Brad Little however says that he will defend the state law, saying, “Our nation’s highest court returned the issue of abortion to the states to regulate — end of story. The U.S. Justice Department’s interference with Idaho’s pro-life law is another example of Biden overreaching yet again while he continues to ignore issues that really should demand his attention — like crushing inflation and the open border with Mexico.”

So yet again, women’s bodies are being politicised

Attorney General Garland is unrepentant saying, “The Justice Department is going to use every tool we have to ensure reproductive freedom. The law requires hospitals to provide stabilizing care for a patient who comes in with a medical emergency that seriously jeopardizes their life or their health”.

“And where that stabilizing treatment is abortion, they must provide the abortion. They must do so notwithstanding a state law that is so narrow that it doesn’t even protect a woman’s life or health.”

“The department is working relentlessly to protect access to reproductive services in recognition of the crisis that it is.”

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