Supreme Court Set to Allow Emergency Abortions in Idaho, For Now

The U.S. Supreme Court appears ready to rule that, for now, emergency abortions be allowed in Idaho when a woman’s health is at risk, an opinion that was briefly posted on the court’s website on Wednesday shows.

The unsigned opinion, published first by Bloomberg News, only dismissed the case on procedural grounds, stating the court would not address the merits of the dispute at this time.

The case centers on whether a federal law requiring emergency care for any patient, including a pregnant woman, overrides Idaho’s strict abortion ban, which outlaws the procedure with few exceptions unless the woman’s life is in danger.

Whether the document was final remains unclear, and a spokeswoman for the court said only that a decision would eventually be released, the New York Times reported.

“The court’s publications unit inadvertently and briefly uploaded a document to the court’s website,” court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe told the Times. “The court’s opinion in Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States will be issued in due course.”

Still, the split laid out in the opinion was essentially 6 to 3, with Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson writing that she would have found the federal law overrides Idaho’s strict ban and that she believed the Supreme Court should tackle the issue now, rather than sending it back to the lower court.

The liberal justices, along with conservative Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., all wrote or joined in concurring opinions. Three of the court’s conservatives, Justices Samuel Alito Jr., Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, dissented.

In his dissent, Justice Alito agreed the court should have ruled on the merits of the case.

“That question is as ripe for decision as it ever will be,” he wrote. “Apparently, the court has simply lost the will to decide the easy but emotional and highly politicized question that the case presents. That is regrettable.”

If the opinion reflects a final decision, it would be the second time this term that the justices have deflected ruling on the merits of abortion.

While abortion rights advocates welcomed the apparent ruling, they warned it may only be temporary.

“If the leaked opinion is accurate, it is clear that pregnant people are not out of the woods — not by a long shot,” Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project, told the Times. “Make no mistake: The Supreme Court had the opportunity to hold once and for all that every pregnant person has the basic right to emergency abortion care, but it appears it failed to do so.”

A broader decision in the Idaho case could affect more than a dozen states that have enacted near-total bans since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022.

Under Idaho law, abortion is illegal except in cases of incest, rape, some instances of nonviable pregnancies or when it is “necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman.” Doctors who perform abortions illegally could face criminal penalties, prison time and loss of their licenses.

More information

The Center for Reproductive Rights has more on abortion.

SOURCE: New York Times

Source: HealthDay