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US Supreme Court Reinstates Lower Court Ruling  Preventing Idaho from Denying Abortions in Emergency Situations

The United States Supreme Court today reinstated a lower court order allowing Idaho healthcare providers to provide emergency abortions to protect the health of pregnant people.

In its 6-3 opinion, the court declared the case was “improvidently granted,” meaning it did not rule on the central question in the case. The court instead sent the case back to a lower court for adjudication — and a potential return to the Supreme Court.

The court was previously set to decide whether a federal law (Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act) protecting medical care in emergency situations supersedes the state of Idaho’s near-total abortion ban, which prohibited abortions unless a physician could prove the abortion was necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant person.  

An amicus brief in the case submitted by the Global Justice Center, as part of a coalition of human rights organizations, argued that Idaho’s abortion law violates the human rights of pregnant people in Idaho, which are protected by human rights treaties that the US has ratified.

Jaime Gher, senior legal advisor at the Global Justice Center, issued the following statement:

“Today’s decision offers temporary relief for pregnant people living under Idaho’s extreme abortion ban, as many facing medical emergencies may now be able to receive the abortion care they need. However, we should be clear that this ruling does not confirm that EMTALA guarantees pregnant persons’ access to emergency care. Rather, it leaves the question open, forcing the people of Idaho to continue living with their human right to reproductive healthcare under constant threat.

“Abortion is a human right. Time and time again, international human rights bodies have made it clear that all abortion bans are incompatible with the human rights to health, life, freedom from torture, non-discrimination, and more. Today’s decision does not alter this fundamental fact.

“We must continue to demand that abortion laws across the United States meet international human rights standards. It’s only through robust, equal, and effective access to abortion that we can truly safeguard our health and lives.”