Justice Department sues Idaho over abortion ban in first post-Roe litigation

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit arguing that Idaho's near-total abortion ban violates federal law, the Biden administration’s first post-Roe litigation.

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit Tuesday arguing that Idaho's near-total abortion ban violates federal law — the Biden administration’s first legal action to protect abortion access since the Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in late June.

In making the announcement at DOJ's headquarters, Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters that Idaho’s ban violates a federal law that requires medical providers to offer emergency medical treatment.

Under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), every hospital in the U.S. that receives Medicare funds must provide "necessary stabilizing treatment to patients who arrive at their emergency departments while experiencing a medical emergency," the 17-page complaint reads. In some circumstances, the necessary medical treatment is an abortion.

"This may be the case, for example, when a woman is undergoing a miscarriage that threatens septic infection or hemorrhage, or is suffering from severe preeclampsia," Garland said.

People protest against the Supreme Court decision in Boise, Idaho on July 20, 2022.Sarah A. Miller / Idaho Statesman via Getty Images fileIdaho's law, which is set to take effect on Aug. 25, "will make it a felony to perform an abortion in all but extremely narrow circumstances," the complaint said, including when doctors provide emergency medical treatment required by federal law.


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