In 2022, Alliance Defending Freedom had the privilege of supporting the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office in defending its pro-life law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The result of that case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, was a resounding win as the high court overturned Roe v. Wade and returned to the people—and their elected representatives—the ability to support women and protect life.
The people of Idaho did just that, and now, ADF and attorneys at the law firm Cooper & Kirk are assisting Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador to defend his state’s law against the Biden administration’s unlawful overreach.
What does Idaho’s law say?
In 2020, the state of Idaho enacted a law called the Defense of Life Act. The law protects the lives of both women and their unborn children, ensuring that doctors do not perform abortions unless necessary to save the life of the mother.
After the Supreme Court reversed Roe in 2022, allowing Idaho’s law to go into effect, the Biden administration promptly sued the state, strangely claiming that it could use a longstanding federal law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) to force emergency room doctors to violate state law and end vulnerable lives.
What is EMTALA?
EMTALA was passed by Congress in 1986 to ensure that emergency rooms provide care to patients who are uninsured or otherwise unable to pay. Notably, EMTALA explicitly requires emergency rooms to provide care to pregnant women and their “unborn child[ren].”
But despite the fact that EMTALA protects life, the Biden administration is still manipulating it to demand that doctors take vulnerable lives in violation of Idaho law.
The administration’s brazen disregard for the rule of law is astonishing. EMTALA and Idaho’s law both seek to ensure no one—including an unborn child—is denied care.
But facts have not deterred the Biden administration from going after Idaho.
How did Idaho’s case reach the Supreme Court?
In August 2022, a federal district court temporarily blocked Idaho’s law. On appeal, a panel of judges on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed Idaho to enforce its law, ruling that EMTALA neither conflicts with nor overrides the statute. But a larger en banc panel of the court, in an unreasoned, one-sentence order, later overturned that decision and put Idaho’s law on hold again.
In light of that ruling, Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador, together with ADF and Cooper & Kirk, asked the Supreme Court to prevent the Biden administration from continuing to manipulate EMTALA to override Idaho’s law and force emergency room doctors to take vulnerable lives. Thankfully, in January 2024, the Court agreed to hear the case, allowing Idaho to continue to protect the lives of women and their unborn children as the litigation continues.
The Supreme Court has announced it will hear oral argument in April. The federal government has no business trying to block Idaho’s law safeguarding women and their children’s lives, and that’s why we’re so grateful to support the Idaho Attorney General’s Office as it defends the people’s law against the Biden administration’s abuse of power.
The importance of the case cannot be overstated: lives are in the balance.
The people of Idaho, through their elected representatives, decided to put the lives of women and their unborn children first. Under Idaho’s law, doctors will continue to care for women experiencing ectopic pregnancies, complications from miscarriage, and other life-threatening conditions. And Attorney General Labrador is doing his job to defend the law, which was not only duly enacted by the people of Idaho but is also perfectly consistent with EMTALA. The attorney general is standing with women and their families against the Biden administration’s lawlessness.
The last time ADF assisted a state at the Supreme Court, the result was a historic victory for women and their families. Let’s pray the same is true in this case.
To learn more about ADF’s work on this case and many others, subscribe to our Docket newsletter.