Judge blocks part of Idaho’s new abortion law
A protest taking place after Planned Parenthood affiliate filed a lawsuit in the Idaho Supreme Court to stop the state to trigger a law that effectively bans abortion. A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked part of Idaho’s strict abortion law that’s scheduled to take effect Thursday, handing the Biden administration a narrow courtroom win in its first lawsuit to protect reproductive rights since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
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A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked part of Idaho’s strict abortion law that’s scheduled to take effect Thursday, handing the Biden administration a narrow courtroom win in its first lawsuit to protect reproductive rights since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
The ruling from Judge B. Lynn Winmill prevents Idaho from enforcing the new law when it conflicts with federal guidance on emergency abortion care in hospitals.
“The State of Idaho will not suffer any real harm if the Court issues the modest preliminary injunction the United States is requesting,” Winmill wrote.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the lawsuit against Idaho earlier this month, and argued that the state’s law conflicted with a federal statute known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA, which was enacted in 1986 to ensure patients receive adequate emergency medical care.
That law requires doctors to provide the emergency medical treatment necessary to stabilize anyone who comes into an emergency room. “This includes abortion, when that is the necessary treatment,” Garland said at the time.
Winmill heard arguments on the Justice Department’s request for a preliminary injunction Monday and said he would issue a written order no later than Wednesday. The state law is still scheduled to take effect Thursday, minus the provision Winmill said the state cannot enforce for now.
While the state argued that its law did not conflict with EMTALA, Winmill found its argument was not persuasive, “because it has failed to properly account for the staggeringly broad scope of its law,” which he said “criminalizes all abortions.”
“It is impossible to comply with both statutes,” Winmill wrote. “[W]here federal law requires the provision of care and state law criminalizes that very care, it is impossible to comply with both laws. Full stop.”