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International Human Rights Organizations Challenge Idaho’s Abortion Ban at US Supreme Court

The Global Justice Center, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Ipas — in partnership with Foley Hoag LLP — today filed an amicus brief in Idaho vs. United States, the United States Supreme Court case considering the enforcement of Idaho’s near-total abortion ban.

The brief argues that Idaho’s abortion law violates the human rights of pregnant Idahoans. Citing human rights treaties that the US has ratified, including those covering civil and political rights, freedom from torture, and racial discrimination, it describes how Idaho’s abortion law violates the United States’ legal obligations to provide safe and legal abortion services. In particular, the brief cites human rights obligations during emergencies governed by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.

“Nothing less than the fundamental human rights of the people of Idaho are at stake in this case,” said Grant Shubin, Senior Legal Advisor at the Global Justice Center. “This abortion ban is a blatant violation of the rights to life, health, non-discrimination, freedom from torture, and privacy. And the violations are far from theoretical — day after day, pregnant people in Idaho are facing life-threatening cruelties while their doctors operate under fear of prosecution.”

The brief also argues that Idaho’s abortion law will endanger the lives, health, and well-being of pregnant Idahoans — especially those from marginalized communities. It cites evidence from other US states and countries with similar abortion restrictions showing that such laws exacerbate preventable maternal mortality and morbidity, despite any narrow exception for life-saving care. 

Risks to the health of pregnant people in Idaho in emergency situations have already been documented. In one case, a physician described having to send a pregnant patient home while experiencing a miscarriage because, without absolute certainty regarding the pregnancy outcome, the physician feared that Idaho’s abortion law prevented them from providing immediate care to manage the miscarriage in the emergency department.

The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in Idaho vs. United States next month.