Supreme Court Set To Allow Emergency Abortion Care In Idaho: Report

The Supreme Court is set to reject a challenge to emergency abortion care in Idaho, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The leaked ruling suggests the court will vote 6-3 to reinstate a lower court decision that allowed abortion care to be used in emergency situations in hospital emergency rooms. Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito made up the three dissenting.

The version of the ruling dismissed the case as “improvidently granted,” meaning the high court shouldn’t have accepted to hear the case in the first place.

Bloomberg saw the ruling in Idaho and Moyle v. United States on Wednesday morning when the decision was briefly posted to the court’s website before it was removed. The news outlet published the full leaked ruling to its website.

“The Court’s Publications Unit inadvertently and briefly uploaded a document to the Court’s website,” Patricia McCabe, the Supreme Court’s public information officer, told HuffPost in a written statement. “The Court’s opinion in Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United Stateswill be issued in due course.”

The copy of the decision has since been removed from the court’s website, which means it is not the final ruling. The leaked decision is reminiscent of the court’s recent ruling on the abortion pill mifepristone. Although it can be viewed as a win because it does not roll back access to emergency abortion care, it does not go as far as to protect that care. It simply prolongs the arguments in the case by kicking it back to lower courts.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote in the ruling that this decision is “not a victory for pregnant patients in Idaho” but instead “it is delay,” according to the decision.

“While this court dawdles and the country waits, pregnant people experiencing emergency medical conditions remain in a precarious position, as their doctors are kept in the dark about what the law requires,” she wrote. “This Court had a chance to bring clarity and certainty to this tragic situation, and we have squandered it. And for as long as we refuse to declare what the law requires, pregnant patients in Idaho, Texas, and elsewhere will be paying the price.”

Alito wrote in his dissenting opinion that “the Court has simply lost the will to decide the easy but emotional and highly politicized question that the case presents.”

The case centers on a 2020 Idaho abortion ban, which was enforced directly after the Supreme Court repealed Roe v. Wade in 2022. The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court to determine if the narrow exceptions in Idaho’s near-total abortion ban override federally mandated requirements for physicians under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). EMTALA requires hospitals that participate in Medicare — the majority of hospitals in the country — to offer abortion care if it’s necessary to stabilize the health of a pregnant patient while they’re experiencing a medical emergency.

Under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, federal law by default overrides state law. But the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which repealed Roe v. Wade, left regulation of abortion to the states.

“Despite clarity of the legal issue and the dire need for an answer from this Court, today six Justices refuse to recognize the rights that EMTALA protects,” Jackson wrote. “The majority opts, instead, to dismiss these cases. But storm clouds loom ahead. Three Justices suggest, at least in this context, that States have free rein to nullify federal law.”

Abortion rights groups cautioned that the unpublished decision is not necessarily a win for reproductive rights.

“While we await the final decision in what should be an open-and-shut case, we are furious that this draft appears to leave the door open for the Supreme Court to end emergency abortion care in the coming months or years,” Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, said in a Wednesday statement.

“It is unconscionable that this court would allow the continued suffering of patients who need emergency care now,” she added. “It is only a small measure of justice that for now people in Idaho can continue to access the care that they need ― victory will only happen when abortion is completely legal, available, and accessible for everyone, everywhere in the country.”

Mini Timmaraju, president and CEO of Reproductive Freedom For All, echoed Jackson’s reported statement that this is not a victory but a delay.

“The abortion bans that are putting people’s lives on the line in the first place will continue to remain on the books,” Timmaraju said in a statement. “We’re grateful that the Biden administration is fighting to preserve the shreds of access possible in states where anti-abortion extremists are doing everything in their power to block people from the care they need, even under the most dire of circumstances. We won’t forget who is responsible for these bans ― Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans who enabled him.”