WATCH ANALYSIS: Supreme Court Rules on Idaho Abortion Ban

In one of the most eagerly anticipated opinions of this term, the U.S. Supreme Court has essentially decided to kick the can down the road on Idaho’s abortion law. 

The official release of the ruling comes a day after the decision was prematurely leaked by someone at the Supreme Court. It was published online briefly on Wednesday before being removed. A court spokeswoman said the post was a mistake.

The decision will allow emergency abortions for now in a procedural ruling that leaves key questions unanswered. For now, the Idaho case will continue to play out in lower courts, and could end up before the Supreme Court again. 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver explained, “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.”

WATCH Our Analysis: Supreme Court Rules on Idaho Abortion Ban

What the Case Is Really About

The Biden administration had sued Idaho claiming the state’s law violates a federal law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). The White House insists the EMTALA requires hospital emergency rooms to provide abortions to women if their general health is at risk. Idaho’s law already provided an exception to save the life of the mother, so the case is seen as an effort to expand abortion access beyond that.

Idaho Solicitor General Joshua Turner suggested the Biden administration’s “health” definition is too broad because it could be interpreted to include many non-life-threatening health concerns, including mental health.  

And the Alliance Defending Freedom accused the Biden administration of trying to invent “a federal abortion mandate by manipulating EMTALA.”

During the arguments at the court, Justice Samuel Alito said the EMTALA was not intended to include abortion because it specifically identifies unborn children as patients who should be cared for in emergency rooms. 

“One potentially very important phrase in EMTALA,” he said, “is the reference to the woman’s unborn child. Isn’t that an odd phrase to put in a statute that imposes a mandate to perform abortions? Have you ever seen an abortion statute that uses the phrase, ‘unborn child?'”

Alito pointed out, “So in that situation, the hospital must stabilize the threat to the unborn child. And it seems like the plain meaning is that the hospital must try to eliminate any immediate threat to the child. Performing an abortion is antithetical to that duty.” 

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Abortion Leaks at the Supreme Court

Two years ago, Politico obtained a draft of the Dobbs ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, stoking widespread outrage by pro-choice activists before the ruling was officially meant to be revealed. It fueled extremists who began firebombing and vandalizing pro-life pregnancy clinics and issuing death threats to the workers who try to help women facing unexpected pregnancies.

The Supreme Court never discovered who infamously leaked that Dobbs ruling, and now there is speculation about why this Idaho abortion ruling was also leaked.
Pro-life activist Kristan Hawkins posted on X, “With media reporting on what appears to be a disappointing outcome in the EMTALA case, you have to wonder whether it’s time for some people working on our nation’s highest court need to be invited to find new jobs. Did the person who leaked the Dobbs decision ‘accidentally’ post today? Inquiring minds want to know.”

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