An Idaho abortion ban that is scheduled to take effect this week was temporarily blocked by a federal judge on Monday, who made that suggestion.
On Monday, Judge B. Lynn Winmill heard arguments regarding the Department of Justice’s request for a preliminary injunction. He promised to give a written decision no later than Wednesday. On Thursday, the Idaho law—which effectively outlaws abortion in the state—will go into force.
Beginning in August, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced a lawsuit against Idaho on the grounds that the state’s law contravened the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA. That law mandates that medical professionals give anybody who enters an emergency room the urgent care required to stabilize them. Garland stated at the time that this also applies to abortion when it is the appropriate course of action.
Since the June Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which overturned the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that found there was a constitutional right to abortion, the Biden administration’s first legal move to defend abortion access has been the lawsuit.
Winmill, who was appointed to the court by President Bill Clinton in 1995, made it clear at the outset of Monday’s hearing that the case’s central concern is not the legality of abortion but rather a potential contradiction between a state and a federal law.
The wisdom of Dobbs or Roe v. Wade is not at issue in this case, according to Winmill. We won’t argue that Dobbs is the law of the land in this instance.
If doctors provided abortion care in accordance with Idaho’s EMTALA rules, would they be subject to prosecution under Idaho law? was a major topic of discussion during the judge’s hearing.
In court documents, the Justice Department argued that the Idaho law’s text “criminalizes all abortions (regardless of how medically necessary or life-saving they may be), and allows medical professionals to avoid criminal liability only by proving an affirmative defense that is narrower” than what is required by federal law.
According to Monte Stewart, an attorney for the Idaho Legislature, doctors and prosecutors can still exercise common sense.
Stewart said that while Idaho is capable of many things, it will never produce a prosecutor who is foolish enough to bring an ectopic pregnancy case to trial. He added that he would have no problem advising doctors to use their best medical judgment when determining what treatment to give a pregnant patient who is at risk of permanent harm or death.
According to Stewart, there won’t be a prosecution in the real world.
In response, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian Netter stated that doctors had informed the Justice Department that the Idaho law would make it difficult to comply with EMTALA.
Because it appears that Idaho law may have been broken, there are times when a doctor may pause, need to call the lawyers for legal advice, or need to meet with Mr. Stewart to determine whether charges will be filed notwithstanding the statutory text, according to Netter. All of this is against EMTALA and federal law, which demands that treatment be provided when it is required.
Although Winmill did not make a decision regarding the case, he did make clear in his closing remarks that he did not agree with the claim that there is no possibility of prosecution in the actual world.
Events in the real world are incredibly difficult to forecast. He claimed that the statute’s text is quite simple to read and comprehend. The fact that there is currently a prosecutor in charge who they believe will not enforce it is probably of little consolation to a doctor, in my opinion.
The Republican governor of Idaho, Brad Little, called the case “federal meddling” last month and said he would cooperate with the state attorney general’s office to fight the DOJ’s move.
According to Little, the Supreme Court of our country has resolved the abortion debate by returning it to the states for regulation.