January 9, 2024 : The Supreme Court on Friday left in place an Idaho law that bans nearly all abortions, even in medical emergencies, marking the first time the justices have weighed in on a state’s criminal abortion law since overturning Roe v. Wade in June.
The justices’ decision to stay a lower court’s ruling blocking the Idaho law comes as abortion rights remain a flashpoint issue across the country, with states enacting a slew of new restrictions following the June ruling.
Idaho’s law, known as the “Trigger Law,” makes it a felony to perform an abortion, with the only exception being if the abortion is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman. The law does not have an exception for cases of rape or incest.
In July, a federal judge blocked the law from taking effect, saying it violated the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which requires hospitals to provide stabilizing treatment to all patients, regardless of their ability to pay or their pregnancy status.
But on Friday, in a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court granted a request from Idaho officials to keep the law in place while the litigation continues. The court did not explain its reasoning for doing so.
The decision likely means that doctors in Idaho will be hesitant to perform abortions, even in cases where the woman’s life is at risk, for fear of being prosecuted.
“This is a devastating blow to women in Idaho,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal group that challenged the Idaho law. “This law puts women’s lives at risk and denies them essential health care.”
The Biden administration had also asked the Supreme Court to block the Idaho law, saying it conflicted with EMTALA. The administration argued that hospitals must provide abortion care in emergencies, even if it is illegal under state law.
The Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Idaho law to stand is a win for anti-abortion rights groups, who have been pushing for states to enact strict abortion bans since Roe v. Wade was overturned.
“This is a great victory for the unborn and the rule of law,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, an anti-abortion rights group. “We are grateful to the Supreme Court for upholding the Idaho law.”
The decision is likely to have a ripple effect across the country as other states with abortion bans consider adding exceptions for medical emergencies. The court’s decision could also encourage other states to enact even stricter abortion bans.
The long-term impact of the Supreme Court’s decision is still being determined. The court could eventually hear the case on the merits and issue a full ruling on the Idaho law. Or, the litigation could drag on for years, leaving the law in place in the meantime.
One thing is for sure: the fight over abortion rights is far from over. The Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Idaho law to stand is likely to reignite the debate over abortion and its place in American society.
The Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Idaho law to stand has several implications for abortion rights in the United States.
The Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Idaho law to stand is a major setback for abortion rights in the United States. The decision has several implications for women’s health and the future of abortion rights in the country.