Supreme Court steps away from Idaho abortion fight

By Bob Unruh

(Image courtesy Unsplash)

The U.S. Supreme Court has stepped away, for now, from a fight over Joe Biden’s pro-abortion agenda – and how it conflicts with state law in Idaho – returning the dispute to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for further arguments.

The court announced, in a terse, once-sentence ruling, that, “The writs of certiorari before judgment are dismissed as improvidently granted, and the stays entered by the court on January 5, 2024, are vacated.”

“This order means that the case returns to the Ninth Circuit, which had ordered that the appeal of the preliminary injunction be decided by the full court on an expedited basis without any further briefing. The abortion ban currently remains in place in Idaho, except for those in emergency room situations,” said Liberty Counsel chief Mat Staver.

WND had reported a day earlier that a posting had appeared, briefly, on the Supreme Court’s website indicating the dismissal.

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The fight is over Biden’s demands that hospitals perform abortion on demand.

The conflict arose because the Supreme Court overturned the legally flawed Roe opinion from 1973 that created a federal “right” to abortion, returning regulation of that lucrative industry to states.

Idaho, in a variation of what multiple states chose to do, chose to ban virtually all abortion.

Biden then directed his bureaucrats to try to find another way, any way, to force states to allow and hospitals to do abortion.

They settled on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, a federal law that provides no one is denied “emergency” treatment at a hospital.

The bureaucracy, and several of the leftist, pro-abortion justices on the high court bench, claim that doing an abortion is required because it is an “emergency” treatment. Several leftists on the court wrote pages and pages about how they are demanding that become the standard across the nation: that hospitals MUST do an abortion when a patient and-or a doctor claims it is an emergency.

But Justice Samuel Alito, in comments joined by Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, explained that those urging support for the abortion industry are misrepresenting the law.

He explained, “This case presents an important and unsettled question of federal statutory law: whether the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), sometimes demands that hospitals perform abortions and thereby preempts Idaho’s recently adopted Defense of Life Act. Enacted nearly 40 years ago, EMTALA requires hospitals participating in Medicare to ‘scree[n]’ and ‘stabilize’ ‘any individual’ who comes to an emergency room with an ’emergency medical condition’ that jeopardizes the patient’s ‘health.’ And if the patient is a pregnant woman, the hospital must stabilize both ‘the woman’ and ‘her unborn child.'”

He explained after Roe was struck down, many states adopted abortion limits, including Idaho’s near-total ban.

That law allows abortion only when needed “to prevent the death of the pregnant woman.”

“Shortly before Idaho’s law took effect, President Biden instructed members of his administration to find ways to limit Dobbs’s reach. Protecting Access to Reproductive Healthcare Services, Exec. Order No. 14076, 87 Fed. Reg. 42053 (2022). In response, Government lawyers hit upon the novel argument that, under EMTALA, all Medicare-funded hospitals—that is, the vast majority of hospitals1— must perform abortions on request when the ‘health’ of a pregnant woman is in serious jeopardy,” he wrote.

He added, “In the Government’s view, EMTALA trumps laws like Idaho’s, which allow abortions only to preserve the life of the pregnant woman. The Government sued Idaho on this preemption theory and obtained a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the state law ‘to the extent it conflicts with EMTALA.’ The Government’s preemption theory is plainly unsound. Far from requiring hospitals to perform abortions, EMTALA’s text unambiguously demands that Medicare-funded hospitals protect the health of both a pregnant woman and her ‘unborn child.'”

Alito explained that the law is clear, and is only muddied when viewed through Biden’s “abortion-for-all” agenda that has dominated his priorities in the White House.

“The text of EMTALA shows clearly that it does not require hospitals to perform abortions in violation of Idaho law. To the contrary, EMTALA obligates Medicare-funded hospitals to treat, not abort, an ‘unborn child.’ EMTALA imposes two main obligations on covered hospitals. First, a hospital must, within its ‘capabilit[ies],’ ‘screen’ ‘any individual’ arriving at the emergency room without regard to the individual’s ability to pay. The purpose of this screening is to determine whether the individual has an ’emergency medical condition,’ which EMTALA defines as follows: ‘a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in— ‘(i) placing the health of the individual (or, with respect to a pregnant woman, the health of the woman or her unborn child) in serious jeopardy, ‘(ii) serious impairment to bodily functions, or ‘(iii) serious dysfunction of any bodily organ … When a hospital determines that an ’emergency medical condition’ exists, it has two options. It may provide ‘treatment’ within the capability of its ‘staff and facilities.’ Or it may ‘transfer . . . the individual’ to another hospital that ‘has available space and qualified personnel for the treatment’ as long as the transfer would effect a net benefit for the patient.”

Also at issue in the case are conscience protections that are available to physicians and-or hospitals to decline to kill an unborn child because of their beliefs or faith.

The government, during arguments, conceded that those exist.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett noted the “United States disclaimed these interpretations of EMTALA. First, it emphatically disavowed the notion that abortion is ever required as stabilizing care for mental health conditions…. Second, the United States clarified that federal conscience protections, both for hospitals and individual physicians, apply in the EMTALA context.”

Carol Tobias, Right to Life president, said, “The Biden-Harris administration has used every lever at its disposal to push unlimited abortion. The Biden administration has deliberately created confusion and fear by claiming that women cannot and will not receive the emergency care they need. We were pleased to see the U.S. government changing its tune during oral arguments, going on record to state that they are not trying to turn emergency rooms into elective abortion facilities.”

She said there remains hope lower courts now will affirm the Idaho law which, “like laws in all 50 states, explicitly allows miscarriage care and treatment in a medical emergency.

John Bursch, of the ADF, explained, “Both Idaho’s law and the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act seek to protect the lives of women and their unborn children, and the consistency between those laws makes us confident about the future of this case. As Justice Barrett noted in her opinion, ‘even with the preliminary injunction in place, Idaho’s ability to enforce its law remains almost entirely intact.’ The Biden administration can’t manipulate federal law to wipe out state protections for unborn children and force emergency room doctors to perform abortions. Under Idaho’s law, doctors will continue to provide care to women experiencing ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, and life-threatening conditions. We’ll continue to assist the state of Idaho and bring a rightful end to the administration’s unlawful overreach and protect the people’s freedom to preserve life.”

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