CNN

Biden Justice Department sues Idaho over state’s abortion restrictions in first post-Dobbs lawsuit

Aug 2, 2022, 12:00 PM | Updated: 1:51 pm
activists are pictured in front of the supreme court...
Pro-choice activists protest during a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in response to the leaked Supreme Court draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on May 3 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

(CNN) — The Biden administration filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Idaho for restricting access to abortion to patients who need lifesaving medical treatment, the first such Justice Department challenge since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this summer.

Idaho’s near-total abortion ban, which will take effect later this month, would make it nearly impossible, according to the Justice Department, for patients who need an abortion in emergency medical situations, such as an ectopic pregnancy or other complications, from receiving potentially lifesaving treatment.

“In the days since the Dobbs decision, there have been widespread reports of delays or denials to pregnant women experiencing medical emergencies,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a news conference Tuesday. “We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that pregnant women get the medical care that they are entitled to.”

The trigger law, which was passed in 2020, would make providing abortions a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. The ban has exceptions for cases of rape or incest if reported to law enforcement or to prevent the death of the pregnant person.

The Justice Department is suing under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which states that hospitals receiving Medicare funds “must provide medical treatment necessary to stabilize that condition before transferring or discharging the patient,” according to Tuesday’s lawsuit.

“The Idaho law would make it a criminal offense for doctors to comply with EMTALA’s requirement to provide stabilizing treatment, even where a doctor determines that abortion is the medical treatment necessary to prevent a patient from suffering severe health risks or even death,” DOJ said in its lawsuit.

CNN has reached out to Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden for comment.

DOJ last month created a task force aimed at protecting abortion fights following the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs that overturned Roe v. Wade and struck down the federal right to abortion.

Under the Idaho law, which is set to take effect on August 25, abortion providers could be subject to arrest and prosecution if a prosecutor can show that an abortion has been performed, with the burden placed on providers to prove an “affirmative defense” at trial, according to the DOJ.

The law “places medical professionals in an impossible situation, they must either withhold stabilizing treatment required by EMTALA or risk felony prosecution and license revocation. In so doing, the law will chill providers’ willingness to perform abortions in emergency situations,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, who’s the head of the task force, said Tuesday.

Garland said that the lawsuit has “nothing to do with going around” the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs.

“The Supreme Court said that each state can make its own decisions with respect to abortion, but so too can the federal government,” he told reporters Tuesday. “Nothing that the Supreme Court said, said that the statutes passed by Congress, such as EMTALA are in any way invalid. It’s quite the opposite. The Supreme Court left it to the people’s representatives. EMTALA was a decision made by the Congress of the United States. The supremacy clause is a decision made in the Constitution of the United States. Federal law invalidates state laws that are in direct contradiction.”

Abortion providers and advocates in Idaho have also challenged the state’s trigger law, arguing that the law is so vague that providers are unsure whether they can provide care for patients in cases such as miscarriages. The state Supreme Court is set to hear the case on Wednesday.

This story has been updated with additional details.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

CNN

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 03: Grammy trophies sit in the press room during the 64th Annual GRAMMY A...
Marianne Garvey, CNN

How to watch the 2023 Grammy Awards: Time, channels and more

The biggest night in music is here with the 65th Grammy Awards on Sunday. If you want to see Harry Styles, Lizzo and more perform, here's how to tune in.
17 hours ago
This photo purports to show the suspected Chinese balloon flying over Mills River, North Carolina, ...
Heather Chen and Wayne Chang, CNN

China says it ‘reserves the right’ to deal with ‘similar situations’ after US shoot down suspected spy balloon

China says it "reserves the right" to deal with "similar situations" following the United States' decision to shoot down its high-altitude balloon.
17 hours ago
In the golden age of space exploration we live in, cosmic revelations seem to occur more frequently...
Ashley Strickland, CNN

Cosmic seaplanes and self-growing bricks could help us explore other worlds

In the golden age of space exploration we live in, cosmic revelations seem to occur more frequently than ever before.
2 days ago
The Chinese national flag is seen at the entrance to the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing...
By Zachary Cohen, CNN

A look at China’s history of spying in the US

The suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that violated American airspace this week has fueled a diplomatic crisis with the postponement of Secretary of State Antony Blinken's planned trip to Beijing.
2 days ago
A balloon flies in the sky over Billings, Montana, U.S. February 1, 2023, in this picture obtained ...
Zachary Cohen, CNN

US military has shot down the Chinese spy balloon off US East Coast, US official says

The US military has shot down the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon over the Atlantic Ocean off the Eastern Seaboard, a US official said Saturday.
2 days ago
The Goonies House...
Taylor Romine and Ralph Ellis, CNN

Man wanted for leaving a dead fish at ‘The Goonies’ house saved by Coast Guard in daring rescue

A man wanted by police in an incident at a house featured in "The Goonies" was the subject of a Coast Guard rescue when he was tossed from a stolen boat as it capsized, authorities said.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Biden Justice Department sues Idaho over state’s abortion restrictions in first post-Dobbs lawsuit