The Biden administration sued the state of Idaho over abortion restrictions

The Biden administration sued the state of Idaho on Tuesday over a tough state abortion law set to take effect this month that the Justice Department said would prevent emergency room doctors from performing abortions necessary to stabilize the health of women who need emergency medical care.

Lawsuitannounced by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland is the first Biden administration to protect access to abortion since Supreme Court ruling at the end of June, which terminated the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.

Since then, Mr. Garland noted at a press conference on Tuesday that “there have been widespread reports of delays and denials of treatment for pregnant women experiencing emergency situations.” The lawsuit alleges that a federal law, the Emergency Medical Services and Jobs Act, prohibits states from imposing restrictions that would prevent emergency room doctors from treating those women.

“If a patient comes to the emergency room and it’s life-threatening or life-threatening, the hospital must provide the treatment necessary to stabilize the patient,” Garland said. “This includes abortion when it is medically necessary.”

The litigation arose as voters in Kansas went to the polls to decide whether to flip 2019 resolution the state Supreme Court interpreted the state Constitution as protecting abortion rights. The ballot initiative is the first referendum on abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in late June.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton last month, after the federal Department of Health and Human Services issued guidelines to ensure access to emergency abortions in Medicare-funded hospitals. sued over the rules.

The new case raises similar legal questions about the scope of a federal law designed to protect emergency room doctors who decide abortions are necessary to treat dangerous pregnancy complications that do not pose an immediate threat to the patient’s life. But this time, the federal government is the plaintiff, not the defendant.

The Justice Department is also seeking to bar Idaho from enforcing its strict abortion law on emergency room doctors, nurses and lab technicians who help perform emergency abortions, including when women are dealing with conditions such as ectopic pregnancy, severe preeclampsia or pregnancy. complications that threaten septic infections or bleeding.

Idaho’s near-total abortion ban had the factor of allowing it to take effect shortly after any US Supreme Court decision overturning its Roe v. Wade abortion-rights precedent. Because the court issued the decision earlier this summer, Idaho’s law is expected to take effect in about three weeks.

The legislation prohibits abortion except in cases where it is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman but not to protect her health, or in cases of rape or incest that have previously been reported to the authorities.

It allows law enforcement officials to arrest and charge a doctor after an abortion has been performed, regardless of the circumstances; A doctor must prove in court that one of the narrow exclusions of the insurance applied. As a result, critics of the law say doctors are afraid to perform abortions under any circumstances.

The Justice Department’s lawsuit asks the court to declare Idaho’s law invalid when applied to situations covered by the Emergency Medical Services and Jobs Act, because federal law trumps state law under the U.S. Constitution when the two conflict.

“Even in dire situations that could meet the Idaho law’s limited “necessary death of a pregnant woman” defense, some providers may withhold care because they have a reasonable fear of prosecution,” the department’s complaint states.

He continued, “Therefore, Idaho’s abortion law will prevent doctors from performing abortions even when the doctor determines that the abortion is medically necessary to prevent a serious risk to the patient’s health, and even in cases where the denial of care could result in the death of the pregnant woman.” patient”.

To statementIdaho Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, described the lawsuit as “federal interference” and said the Supreme Court had “returned abortion to the states for regulation — end of story.”

“The US Department of Justice’s interference with Idaho’s life support law is yet another example of Biden overreaching,” Mr. Little said.

Appearing with Mr. Garland, Vanita Gupta, associate attorney general and head of the Justice Department’s reproductive rights task force, said her task force had been examining the “quickly changing” state legal restrictions on abortion since the Supreme Court. Court decision. She hinted that more lawsuits could be on the way.

“We know this is a scary and uncertain time for pregnant women and their providers,” she said. “Through the work of our task force, the Department of Justice is committed to doing everything we can to ensure continued legal access to reproductive services.

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