Abortion delivery through EMTALA still in play following SCOTUS ruling


The U.S. Supreme Court returned a significant abortion case to a lower court on Thursday, allowing Idaho hospitals to perform abortions in certain cases for now.

The case challenging Idaho’s pro-life law is the center of disagreement over states’ rights to regulate abortion, doctors’ conscience rights, and implementation of the 1986 federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA).

The Court declined to rule on the merits of Idaho v. United States and Moyle v. United States, dismissing the combined case as “improvidently granted,” indicating it should not review the case, at least at this time. The case now goes back to the 9th Circuit where it will proceed.

Prior to the case Idaho law protected unborn life except in circumstances where the mother’s life is in danger. The Biden DOJ sued in August 2022 to prevent Idaho from enforcing its Defense of Life Act, arguing that it conflicted with EMTALA.

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The Biden administration asserts that EMTALA includes abortion, though abortion is not mentioned in the law, which requires hospitals that receive Medicare funds provide “stabilizing treatment” to patients with an “emergency medical condition.”

EMTALA mandates emergency care for everyone regardless of the ability to pay, and actually spells out that this includes pregnant women and their unborn children.

The Biden administration interpretation of EMTALA ultimately compels ER physicians to perform abortion regardless of whether it conflicts with their beliefs. The administration argues that Idaho’s pro-life law prevents hospitals from providing abortions when the mother’s life is at risk, despite the state law having that very exception.

While the Biden administration alleges that EMTALA supersedes Idaho’s pro-life law, the State of Idaho argues that its law does not conflict with EMTALA.

The district court's order blocking the Idaho law will go back into effect as the case goes back for further proceedings, though the SCOTUS decision allows the state to enforce its law in a majority of circumstances.

Pro-life supporters contend the Biden White House is using EMTALA as yet another vehicle to push abortion and overrule state efforts to regulate it. The administration has displayed fervent abortion support since its inception and vehement opposition to the Dobbs ruling striking down Roe v. Wade.

Pregnancy help advocates maintain concern and support for the unborn and women facing unplanned pregnancy as the Idaho case plays out.

“Today’s decision leaves us with more questions than answers,” said Danielle White, General Counsel for Heartbeat International. “The Court did not settle the question of whether states are required to adopt a broad and sweeping view of EMTALA that leaves them effectively powerless to protect mothers and their unborn children from elective abortion – a question which may very well come back to the Court at another time.”

Heartbeat International is the largest network of pregnancy help organizations in the U.S. and globally.

“Heartbeat and its affiliates stand ready to provide compassionate support and life-affirming alternatives to women, ensuring that both mothers and their unborn children receive the care and love they deserve,” White said. “Our goal is to make abortion not only unwanted today but unthinkable for future generations.”

Tweet This: Heartbeat and its affiliates stand ready to provide compassionate support and life-affirming alternatives to women.

Pregnancy Help News will provide ongoing coverage as the case develops.

Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News.

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