(CTN News) – Following a legal appeal by the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden, Idaho officials requested Monday that the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily stop a federal judge’s decision that prevented the Republican-governed state from implementing its nearly complete ban on abortion in medical emergencies.
U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued a preliminary injunction in August 2022 after finding that the state’s abortion restrictions conflicted with a federal provision that guarantees patients can obtain emergency “stabilizing care.” Republican state authorities requested the justices to put the injunction on hold.
According to legal documents submitted to the Supreme legal by Idaho’s Republican attorney general and prominent Republican state politicians, Winmill’s decision has allowed “an ongoing violation of both Idaho’s sovereignty and its traditional police power over medical practice.”
A woman’s constitutional right to an abortion was nullified in June 2022 when the conservative majority of the Supreme Court reversed the historic Roe v. Wade ruling.
Several states with Republican governors enacted stricter regulations on abortion after that decision.
The so-called “trigger” bill prohibiting abortion in Idaho, which was enacted by the Republican-led state legislature and signed into law by the Republican governor in 2020, would have taken effect immediately upon the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The Defense of Life Act outlaws abortion in Idaho unless it is determined that the mother’s life is in imminent danger and no alternative option exists.
Under Biden’s direction, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued federal guidance after the Roe v. Wade decision.
The guidance states that state abortion bans do not supersede a 1986 U.S. law known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which compels hospitals to “stabilize” patients with emergency medical conditions.
In August 2022, the Biden administration took legal action against Idaho’s trigger law. They claimed that the law conflicted with the 1986 law, as the federal laws may mandate abortions that wouldn’t fall within Idaho’s limited exception for saving the mother’s life.
To prevent “serious impairment to bodily functions” or “serious jeopardy” to a woman’s health, Winmill concurred that month and blocked the enforcement of the Idaho legislation about abortions.
While the state of Idaho is appealing, a three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco decided to allow the ban to be enforced in September.
This month, however, the entire 9th Circuit overturned the panel’s decision and granted the Biden administration’s request to temporarily halt the Idaho law pending the outcome of the appeal.
In August 2022, the federal government was preliminarily barred from mandating abortions for emergency room patients due to a conflict with a Republican-backed Texas abortion ban.
This decision followed the administration’s similar legal battle in Texas, where U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix had previously blocked such a program.
The government has appealed this decision to the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.