Press "Enter" to skip to content

Can Idaho doctors be prosecuted for providing emergency abortions? Court says yes

Demonstrators walk to the Idaho Capitol building carrying anti-abortion signs in January 2023. A federal appeals court reversed a decision that shielded physicians from prosecution for providing abortions when a pregnant patient’s health is in jeopardy. | Sarah A. Miller, Idaho Statesman
BOISE (Idaho Statesman) — A federal appeals court Thursday reversed a lower court’s decision that shielded emergency room physicians from prosecution under Idaho’s abortion ban when a pregnant patient’s health is in jeopardy.
Last year, the U.S. Justice Department won a partial injunction on Idaho’s criminal abortion penalties, after federal attorneys successfully argued that the restrictions conflicted with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). The federal law requires emergency rooms to treat patients with conditions that seriously jeopardize their health, but Idaho law allows abortions only if the pregnancy was life-threatening or a result of reported incest or rape.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Thursday reversed the injunction. Circuit Judge Lawrence VanDyke wrote for the court that EMTALA does not preempt state law, and the federal government “has no discernible interest in regulating the internal medical affairs” of the state.
“I’m proud of the work my team has done,” Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador said in a news release, “including collaborating with the Legislature’s counsel, to ensure Idaho’s sensible law continues to save the lives of babies and provides medical professionals with the ability to exercise their judgment to assist women who need emergency care.”
The ruling applies to emergency rooms that receive Medicare funding, and it means law enforcement officials in Idaho can begin prosecuting physicians for providing emergency abortions that were necessary to avoid serious health problems. Criminal abortion is a felony in Idaho, and a physician’s license is suspended if they’re convicted.
The ruling that was reversed Thursday found that medical providers couldn’t be prosecuted for conducting an abortion that was necessary to avoid serious health risks, including impairment to bodily functions and dysfunction of an organ.
“Anti-abortion politicians have already banned abortion in the state of Idaho,” Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, said in a news release Friday. “And now it’s being taken a step further by taking away people’s ability to access emergency care when they need it the most. We’re dedicated to prioritizing our patients’ health and well-being — even if our state won’t.”
The post Can Idaho doctors be prosecuted for providing emergency abortions? Court says yes appeared first on East Idaho News.

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *