Justice Department sues Idaho over Aug. 25 near-total abortion ban


The Department of Justice filed its first complaint following a Landmark Supreme Court ruling allowing states to ban abortionarguing that a new Idaho law that would impose a near-total ban on the procedure violates a federal requirement to provide medical care when a pregnant person’s life or health is at stake.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the lawsuit filed Tuesday seeks to end Idaho’s “trigger” ban, which is set to go into effect Aug. 25.

Idaho law allows doctors to be criminally prosecuted for performing abortions, Garland said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. He argued that this could conflict with federal law that says patients seeking emergency medical treatment at a hospital that accepts Medicare funds are entitled to all life-saving treatment.

“We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that every pregnant woman receives the emergency medical treatment to which she is entitled under federal law,” Garland said.

The offices of the Idaho governor and attorney general could not immediately be reached for comment.

Abortion ban creates confusion around treatment of miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies

The lawsuit represents the Biden administration’s first legal salvo as it attempts to protect abortion rights, in some measure, following the Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn Roe vs. Wadethe landmark Supreme Court case that for five decades guaranteed the right to abortion.

This could be a harbinger of future lawsuits to be brought by the Department of Justice, as some other states also have laws that do not make exceptions to their abortion bans for the life or health of the woman. .

But at the same time a host of legal battles are expected to unfold of the Supreme Court’s decision, it is difficult to predict precisely where and how. It will all depend on how judges react to initial cases like Idaho’s and how states choose to apply their laws. Justice Department officials did not say Tuesday whether they plan to file similar lawsuits against other states.

Garland argued that the legal issues at stake in the Idaho case are simple — state law is in direct conflict with a federal law that says hospitals receiving Medicare funding are bound by law. federal government to provide emergency treatment to those in need. By prohibiting abortions even to women in medical emergencies, Idaho law violates this federal law, and where state and federal laws conflict, federal law prevails, consistent with the Constitution.

Abortion is now prohibited in these states. See where the laws have changed.

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta also faulted the Idaho law for placing the legal burden on doctors and nurses accused of performing abortions to prove they did not violate the law.

“The law puts medical professionals in an impossible situation,” Gupta said. “They either have to suspend stabilizer treatment…or risk felony charges and license revocation. The law will curb the willingness of providers to perform abortions in emergency situations and harm patients by blocking access to medically necessary health care.

The lawsuit cites several medical conditions that could require a doctor to perform an abortion for life-threatening reasons, including septic infections and ectopic pregnancies – when the fetus implants outside the uterus and the pregnancy cannot not be viable.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision in a case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, several states across the country have tightened abortion restrictions. Pregnant women in several states reported that doctors have been reluctant to provide them with proper medical treatment for fear of breaking national abortion laws.

This developing story. It will be updated.


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