SCOTUS Allows Idaho to Enforce Extreme Abortion Ban Until April Appeal

On Friday the U.S. Supreme Court allowed an abortion ban in Idaho to go into effect for now, while waiting to hear an appeal of the case in April.

The SCOTUS’ order is the first time it has weighed in on a state’s criminal law banning abortions since the 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Idaho’s “Defense of Life Act” would would make it a crime for “every person who performs or attempts to perform an abortion,” even when the woman’s health is greatly endangered. Under the Idaho law, the only exception to the abortion ban is when an abortion is “necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman.”

  • In 2022, the Biden administration successfully sued to block the extreme law with the argument that the ban illegally interfered with the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act that requires hospitals to provide stabilizing procedures when the mother’s life is in danger.
  • The government argued that “pregnant patients arrive at emergency rooms in Idaho suffering from non-lethal conditions — including infections, pre-eclampsia, or premature pre-term rupture of membranes — for which pregnancy termination is the stabilizing care required to avoid grave harms like strokes, sepsis, and kidney failure.”
  • The court said that Idaho’s law was narrower than the federal law that “protects patients not only from imminent death but also from emergencies that seriously threaten their health,” and blocked the extreme ban from taking effect.

A three-judge panel of Trump appointees briefly overturned this decision, but was quickly reversed by the full Ninth Circuit panel, which has kept the extreme ban on ice.

Until Friday.

The Extreme Supreme Court intervened to allow Idaho’s criminal abortion ban to take effect and agreed to hear an appeal in April. The decision could have ripple effects in other states to implement stricter abortion bans.