Idaho abortion ban back in place as Supreme Court weighs in

Boise, Idaho – The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to put back in place a near-total ban on abortion in the state of Idaho while it hears an appeal against the law.

Abortion rights advocates outside the Supreme Court in April 2023.
Abortion rights advocates outside the Supreme Court in April 2023.  © OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP

Th conservative-dominated court, which overturned the constitutional right to abortion in June 2022, scheduled oral arguments in the Idaho case for April.

Idaho has some of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the country, allowing the procedure only if a pregnant mother is at imminent risk of death.

The Biden administration sued Idaho arguing that its law conflicts with a federal law that requires hospitals that receive government Medicare funding to provide emergency room medical care, including abortion, in situations that are serious but not necessarily life-threatening.

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"Nothing protects a physician from arrest or criminal prosecution under Idaho's law, and a physician who provides an abortion in Idaho can avoid criminal liability only by establishing that 'the abortion was necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman,'" the Justice Department said.

"Beyond care necessary to prevent death, the law provides no defense whatsoever when the health of the pregnant patient is at stake," it added.

A federal judge in Boise, the Idaho capital, issued a preliminary injunction in August 2022 blocking the state law on the grounds it put doctors in a difficult position.

What are the abortion ban laws in Texas and Idaho?

The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to put back in place a near-total ban on abortion in Idaho while it hears an appeal against the law.
The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to put back in place a near-total ban on abortion in Idaho while it hears an appeal against the law.  © MANDEL NGAN / AFP

The US Supreme Court ruling overturning the constitutional right to abortion left states free to create their own laws around the procedure.

A Texas woman was recently forced to leave the state for an emergency abortion after being prevented from terminating her potentially life-threatening pregnancy. Texas physicians found guilty of providing abortions face up to 99 years in prison, fines of up to $100,000 and the revocation of their medical license.

Under Idaho's Defense of Life Act someone who carries out an abortion may be subject to five years in prison.

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In a statement on Friday, President Joe Biden said the Supreme Court decision "allows Idaho's extreme abortion ban to go back into effect and denies women critical emergency abortion care required by federal law."

He added that the court's overturning of the federal right to abortion last year "has enabled Republican elected officials to pursue dangerous abortion bans like this one that continue to jeopardize women's health, force them to travel out of state for care, and make it harder for doctors to provide care."

"This should never happen in America," he wrote on X.

Cover photo: OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP

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