Supreme Court Reveals Dismissal of Idaho Emergency Abortion Ban Case

A copy of an opinion “inadvertently and briefly uploaded” to the U.S. Supreme Court’s website on Wednesday revealed that it may allow emergency abortions in Idaho. 

The Idaho law at issue outlaws all abortions unless necessary to prevent a pregnant woman’s death. It does not contain exceptions for abortions necessary to prevent grave harm to a woman’s health.

The leaked opinion suggests that the Court will not rule on the merits of the case and leave in place a lower court ruling that prohibits the state from enforcing the abortion ban when it conflicts with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). EMTALA is a federal law that requires hospital emergency rooms to provide “necessary stabilizing treatment” to patients arriving in an “emergency medical condition” when that hospital receives Medicare.

The federal government’s suit against Idaho asserts that EMTALA prevents a state from barring hospitals from performing abortions necessary to prevent serious harm to a pregnant person’s health. The district court granted a preliminary injunction, and after the appellate court declined to stay the injunction, Idaho filed an emergency application to the U.S. Supreme Court, which stayed the injunction and granted Idaho’s petition for certiorari before judgment. After the stay, the state’s largest provider of emergency services began airlifting pregnant women out of Idaho about every other week, according to the leaked copy. With the injunction, this took place only once in the prior year.

The vote revealed in the copy of the opinion showed a 6-3 decision with Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch dissenting.

The leaked opinion is not necessarily the finalized ruling of the Court.

Additional Reading

Supreme Court Poised to Allow Emergency Abortions in Idaho, Bloomberg (June 26, 2024)

Court appears to dismiss Idaho’s emergency abortion ban, leaving federal protection in place, SCOTUSblog (June 26, 2024)

Leaked opinion in the cases of Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States

Image Credit: Orhan Cam /