Supreme Court rules to allow emergency exceptions to Idaho’s abortion ban

The Supreme Court ruled in a case centered on Idaho's abortion ban and federal law that requires emergency rooms to give “stabilizing treatments."

The Supreme Court Thursday ruled that doctors in Idaho must – at least for now – be allowed to provide emergency abortions despite the state’s near-total ban, in order comport with the federal law that requires emergency rooms to give “stabilizing treatments” to patients in critical condition. 

In an unsigned opinion, the Court held that writs of certiorari in two cases involving the law were “improvidently granted,” and vacated stays the Court granted earlier this year. 

The consolidated cases, Moyle v. U.S. and Idaho v. U.S., had national attention following the high court’s 2022 ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade. 


Idaho’s newly enacted Defense of Life Act makes it a crime for any medical provider to perform an abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.  

The Justice Department argued that the state’s law does not go far enough to allow abortions in more medical emergency circumstances.

The DOJ sued the state, saying that the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) requires health care providers to give “stabilizing treatment” – including abortions – for patients when needed to treat an emergency medical condition, even if doing so might conflict with a state’s abortion restrictions.

The state had argued that “construing EMTALA as a federal abortion mandate raises grave questions under the major questions doctrine that affect both Congress and this Court.” Proponents of the state’s abortion restriction accused the Biden administration of “subverting states’ rights,” citing the Dobb’s decision which allowed states to regulate abortion access.

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This is a developing story. Please check back here for more updates.

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