Spread the love

Divided, US Supreme Court considers Idaho abortion ban

Photo: Andrew Harnik Getty Images via Agence France-Presse Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador speaks outside the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday in Washington.

Amel Semmache – Agence France-Presse and Inès Bel Aiba – Agence France-Presse in Washington

Published yesterday at 6:47 p.m. Updated yesterday at 11:42 p.m.

  • United States

A divided Supreme Court on Wednesday weighed the near-total ban on abortion in the northwestern US state of Idaho to determine whether it in conflict with federal legislation on medical emergencies.

It is this same institution dominated by conservatives which pulverized, in June 2022, the federal guarantee of the right to abortion, overturning jurisprudence dating back several decades.

The latest case is being closely followed because it could impact hospitals across the country. Abortion is also one of the themes at the heart of the campaign for the presidential election on November 5.

A sign that the debate remains lively throughout the United States, The Arizona House of Representatives voted Wednesday to repeal an 1864 law banning almost all abortions, deemed applicable two weeks ago by the Supreme Court of this electorally key state.

As for Idaho, it is one of the most severe states in terms of voluntary termination of pregnancy (abortion): abortion is prohibited there with rare exceptions, such as in cases of incest or danger of death imminent for the pregnant woman.

Outside this framework, any person performing an abortion risks up to five years in prison.

The administration of Democratic President Joe Biden has asked the courts to block the legislation, arguing that it violates a federal law on medical emergencies because it does not provide an exception in cases of “danger serious for the health” of the pregnant woman.

“Impossible situation”

On Wednesday, the Court's three progressive justices, Elena Kagan, Ketanji Brown Jackson and Sonia Sotomayor, pressed questions on the Idaho state representative, sometimes sharply reframing him and using harrowing women's cases as examples. whose health would be threatened but not necessarily their lives.

Among the conservative judges, some were skeptical of the government's arguments.

“How can you put restrictions on what Idaho can criminalize, just because hospitals in Idaho chose to accept [federal funds] ?” he asked one of them, Samuel Alito.

The same magistrate also questioned the use of the expression “unborn child” in the legislation federal law, implying that this meant that “the hospital must attempt to eliminate any immediate threat to the child”, and that therefore “performing an abortion is contrary to this duty.”

Other conservative judges, such as Amy Coney Barrett, however, expressed doubts, with the latter even saying she was “shocked” by part of Idaho Representative Josh Turner's argument.

Elizabeth Prelogar, the Biden administration's legal advisor, asserted that “today, doctors and women in Idaho find themselves in an impossible situation.”

“If a woman arrives at the emergency room and her health is seriously threatened, but she is not yet in danger of death, then doctors should either delay treatment and let her condition deteriorates, or fly her out of state so she can receive the emergency care she needs,” she said.

Divided, US Supreme Court considers Idaho abortion ban

Photo: Andrew Harnik Getty Images via Agence France-Presse Pro-abortion protesters stand outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday holding signs reading “Abortion Saves Lives.”


The federal law, called EMTALA, requires hospitals affiliated with the government health insurance Medicare to provide emergency care to people in need.

For Idaho, a rural and conservative state, this care does not necessarily include abortion, which the federal government.

A federal judge in Boise, the capital of Idaho, issued a preliminary injunction in August 2022 that partially suspended that state's law, saying it put doctors in a difficult position.

But in January, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to temporarily reinstate it while it considers an appeal against the measure.

On Wednesday, in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, a few hundred pro-abortion demonstrators brandished signs proclaiming “Abortion saves lives”.

A ten anti-abortion activists confronted them for a time.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116