The Biden Administration’s Attempt to Stop Idaho’s Pro-Life Law Has FAILED at the Ninth Circuit

The U.S. Department of Justice last August filed a lawsuit against Idaho over a pro-life law, section 622, triggered when the U.S. Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022) overturned Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992).

The law allows doctors to perform abortions only if the mother’s life is in danger.

The federal government claimed the law could discourage doctors from performing abortions as emergency treatment to protect the lives or health of pregnant women. The government contended that the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), passed in 1986, preempted Idaho’s pro-life law.

EMTALA prevents hospitals that receive Medicaid reimbursement from refusing emergency care on indigent patients because they can’t pay.

A lower court agreed with the government’s argument and issued an injunction against enforcement pending appeal.

But a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Thursday lifted the injunction against enforcement pending appeal. The panel contended (PDF) that EMTALA does not preempt Idaho’s law against abortion and does not require hospitals to kill unborn babies. From the opinion (emphasis added):

“In sum, when a doctor determines an abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother, termination of a pregnancy is not punishable by section 622, Idaho Code § 18-622…The federal government is thus wrong when it asserts that it is impossible to comply with both EMTALA and section 622.”

The Biden administration relied on EMTALA to undermine the Idaho legislature’s authority to restrict abortion. The Dobbs decision returned abortion back to the states, and federal law does not preempt the state legislature’s determination to save unborn lives.

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