Justice Department sues Idaho over abortion law in first legal challenge since Roe’s reversal

Washington — The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit challenging an Idaho law that outlaws nearly all abortions in the state, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Tuesday, the first court battle launched by the Biden administration since the Supreme Court. marked. constitutional rights abolished abortion in june

at a press conference announcing new lawsuitGarland said Idaho’s law, which was enacted in 2020 and takes effect on August 25, violates the Constitution and is exempt by federal law, as opposed to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). Is.

The Justice Department is asking a federal district court in Idaho to invalidate the so-called trigger law and prevent the state from enforcing it against medical providers.

“In the days following the Dobbs decision, there have been widespread reports of delays and denials of treatment to pregnant women experiencing medical emergencies. Today, the Justice Department’s message is clear: It doesn’t matter that a person subject to EMTALA What state the hospital operates in. If a patient comes to the emergency room, endangering the patient’s life or health, the hospital must provide the necessary treatment to stabilize that patient,” Garland said. “This includes abortion when it is necessary treatment.”

Garland said any state law that prevents a hospital from fulfilling obligations under EMTALA violates federal law, and Idaho statute “seems to be on its face” to conflict directly with it. “Prohibition would be a threat to the health of women who come to the emergency room with a really serious medical condition,” he added.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little called the Justice Department’s lawsuit “federal interference” and defended the state law.

“Our nation’s highest court has returned the states to regulate the issue of abortion – end of story,” he said in a statement. “The US Justice Department’s interference with Idaho’s pro-life law is another example that Biden is pushing again, while he continues to ignore issues that should really get his attention — like inflation. trample and open border with Mexico.”

Idaho’s law makes it a felony to perform an abortion in most circumstances, and the Justice Department argues in its lawsuit that the measure makes it a criminal offense for doctors to comply with EMTALA, which requires health care providers. who receive Medicare funds to provide needed stabilization. Treatment for a mother whose health is at risk and must undergo an emergency abortion.

The Biden administration said circumstances in which a doctor may need an abortion to stabilize the expectant mother include an ectopic pregnancy, severe preeclampsia or a complication from a pregnancy that is at risk of septic infection or bleeding.

“Idaho’s law would make it a criminal offense for doctors to provide emergency medical treatment as required by federal law,” Garland said. “Although Idaho law provides an exception to prevent death of pregnant women, it does not include an exception for cases in which abortion is necessary to prevent a serious threat to the women’s health.”

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden blamed the department for failing to discuss the issue with Idaho officials and instead decided to file a “politically motivated lawsuit.” Wasden said in a statement that the provision of EMTALA does not precede state law except in specific circumstances.

“Instead of complying with the requirements of this provision and attempting to reconcile Idaho law with EMTALA, or even engage Idaho in a meaningful dialogue on the issue, the federal government has engaged in an unnecessary litigation. The taxpayer chose to waste dollars,” Wadden said.

The lawsuit against the state of Idaho is brought by the Justice Department for the first time since the Supreme Court in late June in Roe v. Wade, returning abortion policy to elected officials and paving the way for more stringent bans or outright bans for state lawmakers. Abortion.

In response to the High Court ruling, President Biden signed an executive order Last month that directed his administration to protect reproductive rights.

Following Mr Biden’s order, Health and Human Services Secretary Javier Becerra issued new guidance Hospitals are informed that if the mother’s life is at risk they should provide emergency abortion, as per requirements under the EMTALA Preemptive State Abortion Restrictions.

The Justice Department and the White House convened a meeting of private law firms, bar associations, law professors and public interest groups for the first time on Friday to push for legal representation to help protect access to reproductive health services.

Associate Attorney General Vanitha Gupta, who leads the Justice Department’s response to the Supreme Court’s decision, said Tuesday that Idaho law “colds” the willingness of providers to provide abortions when deemed medically necessary on the issue. and warned that it “presumably criminalizes all abortions.”

Gupta explained that the burden of the law falls on the doctors, who have to prove why the abortion procedure is necessary.

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