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Idaho and Moyle, et al. v. United States

Location: Idaho
Court Type: U.S. Supreme Court
Status: Ongoing
Last Update: April 24, 2024

What's at Stake

Idaho and Moyle, et al. v. United States was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by Idaho politicians seeking to disregard a federal statute — the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) — and put doctors in jail for providing pregnant patients necessary emergency medical care. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on this case on April 24, 2024. The Court’s ultimate decision will impact access to this essential care across the country.

Enacted in 1986, EMTALA requires any hospital with an emergency room that receives Medicare funds (virtually all hospitals) to provide stabilizing treatment to anyone who comes to the hospital experiencing an emergency medical condition. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country went into effect in Idaho.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed this lawsuit against Idaho in August 2022, seeking an injunction to allow patients to receive emergency abortions, as required under this federal law. A lower court granted the injunction, but anti-abortion politicians appealed that ruling to the Supreme Court, which lifted the injunction and took the case in January.

In March 2024, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Idaho, and the law firm Cooley LLP filed an amicus brief in the case explaining that Idaho’s arguments cannot be justified under the Supreme Court’s own precedents, and that all three branches of government have long recognized that hospitals are required under EMTALA to provide emergency abortion care to any patient who needs it.

As a result of this ban, medical providers have found themselves having to decide between providing necessary emergency care to a pregnant patient and facing criminal prosecution from the state, or declining medical care and leaving a patient in crisis while facing federal sanctions for violating EMTALA.

Since Idaho’s extreme abortion ban took effect, Idaho has lost nearly 1 in 5 obstetricians and gynecologists who have chosen to leave the state and practice elsewhere, which has led to hospital obstetrics programs around the state shuttering their doors.

Medical professionals, from the American College of Emergency Physicians and American Hospital Association to the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have underscored that doctors must be able to provide their patients with the emergency abortion care they need.

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