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22 states, dozens of groups support Idaho's pro-life law

Broad support comes from friend-of-the-court briefs filed with US Supreme Court
A toddler with his parents touches his mother's pregnant belly

WASHINGTON – Twenty-two states, 121 members of Congress, doctors, and a broad coalition of policy and advocacy groups filed friend-of-the-court briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Idaho’s law that protects the lives of women and their unborn children, preventing doctors from performing abortions unless necessary to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.

The Office of the Idaho Attorney General, with the assistance of seasoned Supreme Court litigators from Alliance Defending Freedom and Cooper & Kirk, filed its opening brief last week with the high court, asking it to prevent the Biden administration from rewriting federal law to override Idaho’s Defense of Life Act.

“Idaho’s law is perfectly consistent with EMTALA, which provides explicit protections for ‘unborn children’ in four separate places. The Biden administration has no business rewriting federal law to override Idaho’s law and force doctors to perform abortions,” said Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador. “We are grateful for the many amicus briefs asking the Supreme Court to end the administration’s unlawful overreach and respect the people’s decision to protect life.”

“The Biden administration has no authority to override Idaho’s law and force emergency room doctors to perform abortions. There is no conflict between Idaho’s Defense of Life Act and EMTALA,” said ADF Senior Counsel John Bursch, vice president of appellate advocacy. “Both Idaho’s law and EMTALA seek to protect the lives of women and their unborn children. The Supreme Court should uphold Idaho’s law and ensure that emergency room doctors are not forced to end lives.”

In August 2022, the Biden administration sued Idaho, claiming that it could use the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act to preempt Idaho’s protections for life and force emergency room doctors to perform abortions that are unlawful in Idaho. But there is no conflict between EMTALA and Idaho’s law as both seek to save lives and neither requires abortions to be performed. After a lower court upheld the Biden administration’s attempt to rewrite EMTALA and prevented Idaho from enforcing its law, the Supreme Court stayed that erroneous decision, allowing Idaho to continue to protect the lives of women and their unborn children as the litigation continues, and agreed to hear the case on April 24.

In the 
brief led by the state of Indiana and joined by 21 other states, they explain how, “if accepted, the United States’ position would permit the Executive Branch to seek decrees overriding all manner of state laws and fundamentally transform the relationships among citizens, their States, and the United States… Amici States have a profound interest in the rejection of that position to preserve the federalist structure, their power to regulate for the welfare of their citizens, and state laws adopted by citizens’ elected representatives to protect unborn children from intentional destruction.”

“An induced abortion intends to end pre-born life; emergency care intends to save it. EMTALA requires the latter, not the former,” the brief filed by the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists explains. “By definition, measures taken to save the mother, the preborn child, or both are not considered ‘abortions’ in either common or medical parlance.… Moreover, the suggestion of an EMTALA-driven provider shortage is inconsistent with available statistics. The overwhelming majority of obstetricians in the United States do not perform abortions. Sky-is-falling news reports about obstetricians fleeing States that enforce pro-life laws have no connection to statistical reality.”

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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John Bursch
John Bursch
Senior Counsel, Vice President of Appellate Advocacy
John Bursch is senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy with Alliance Defending Freedom.