Supreme Court dismisses Idaho abortion case without ruling

In a 6-3 decision, "justices issued separate concurring and dissenting opinions, suggesting division on the merits of Idaho’s argument."

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A ruling from the Supreme Court in Idaho and Moyle v. United States dismissed the case from its docket on the merits and sent it back to the lower courts. The case, which was brought to the Supreme Court after the Department of Justice (DOJ) sued Idaho in August 2022, was seeking an injunction to allow patients to receive abortions in emergency circumstances.

While the case argued that Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA)— a federal statute that requires federally funded hospitals to provide emergency stabilizing treatment to any patient that needs it—prevents Idaho from banning emergency abortions, the dissenting opinion by Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas dismissed Idaho’s appeal.

In a 6-3 decision, “justices issued separate concurring and dissenting opinions, suggesting division on the merits of Idaho’s argument,” The Hill reported.

“Today’s decision is not a victory for pregnant patients in Idaho. It is a delay,” Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, said. “While this court dawdles and the country waits, pregnant people experiencing emergency medical conditions remain in a precarious position, as their doctors are kept in the dark about what the law requires. This Court had a chance to bring clarity and certainty to this tragic situation, and we have squandered it.”

The Supreme Court’s dismissal “means doctors in Idaho will be able to perform emergency abortions despite state-level restrictions while the case is being litigated” in lower courts, The Hill reported.

The Biden administration looked at the dismissal as a short-term victory in the fight to protect access to abortion.

“Today’s Supreme Court order ensures that women in Idaho can access the emergency medical care they need while this case returns to the lower courts,” President Biden said. “No woman should be denied care, made to wait until she’s near death, or forced to flee her home state just to receive the health care she needs. This should never happen in America. Yet, this is exactly what is happening in states across the country since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.”

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