Federal Judge Blocks Idaho Law Banning Nearly All Abortions

Arjun Singh Contributor
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A federal district court in Idaho Tuesday blocked the state from enforcing a near-total ban on abortion set to take effect after the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

The ruling was issued in response to a lawsuit, United States v. Idaho, by the Biden administration against Idaho on State Code 18-622, which was set to take effect Thursday. That law, passed in 2020, banned all abortions except those required to prevent the death of a mother, and physicians who violated it faced up to two years in prison and a revocation of their medical license.

In a preliminary injunction, issued as the case makes its way through the courts, Judge B. Lynn Winmill, a Clinton appointee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho, ruled that the Idaho law violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) and blocked the state from enforcing 18-622. EMTALA, a federal law signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, requires physicians and hospitals who receive Medicare funding to provide emergency treatment to anyone, regardless of ability to pay, when they arrive at a hospital.

The Biden administration, joined by doctors’ groups and several Democratic state attorneys-general, had argued that Idaho’s law would violate EMTALA by preventing doctors from terminating pregnancies of emergency room patients if required to “stabilize” their condition. Idaho, meanwhile, argued that its law was compatible with EMTALA in practice, and that the administration was engaged in overreach on states’ rights to pass their own legislation.

The ruling is not the final word on the Idaho’s law’s validity, which will be determined by the case. Still, Judge Winmill claimed that the Biden administration would “likely succeed on the merits” of their claim that the law was unconstitutional.

The ruling also came as a Judge James Wesley Hendrix of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled oppositely on a similar case, Texas v. Becerra, and blocked the administration from issuing EMTALA guidelines to Texas doctors, requiring them to perform abortions to receive Medicare funds, and upheld a state law imposing a blanket ban on the procedure.

In a statement on the ruling, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the ruling will “prevent serious harm to women.” Idaho’s Deputy Attorney General, Brian Church, who argued the case, is expected to appeal the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco.

Neither the Idaho Attorney General’s office nor the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services responded to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Still, Winmill’s decision only creates exceptions for emergency cases necessary for the mother’s physical health. General abortions remain banned in Idaho as of Thursday, with reported cases of rape and incest being the only exceptions permitted.