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Appeals court lifts partial stay on Idaho abortion ban

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an order on Thursday lifting a lower court ruling that prevented the state of Idaho from enforcing parts of its near-total abortion ban.

Citing the Supreme Court decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that returned the issue of abortion to the individual states, Judge Lawrence VanDyke said Idaho is one of many states using “that prerogative to enact abortion restrictions.”

Idaho has some of the harshest abortion restrictions, with termination of pregnancy being banned except for cases that threaten the mother’s life, or in cases of rape and incest that have been reported to law enforcement.

Last August, the Justice Department filed suit against Idaho, temporarily blocking the state’s abortion ban from taking effect.

Following the suit, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill temporarily blocked the near-total abortion ban, writing that it violates the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which requires providers to offer medically stabilizing treatment in an emergency, even in cases when that care is providing an abortion.

While most of the abortion ban took place, the state wouldn’t have been able to prosecute anyone who performed an abortion in an emergency situation while the lawsuit from the Justice Department is argued.

In the decision released Thursday, VanDyke disagreed. He wrote that the injunction “directly harms [Idaho’s] sovereignty.”

“Because there is no preemption, the Idaho Legislature is entitled to a stay of the district court’s order improperly enjoining its duly enacted statute,” he wrote.

“Ultimately, given our conclusion that EMTALA does not preempt Idaho’s law, the federal government has no discernible interest in regulating the internal medical affairs of the State, and the public interest is best served by preserving the force and effect of a duly enacted Idaho law during the pendency of this appeal,” VanDyke concluded. “Therefore, the balance of the equities and the public interest support a stay in this case.”

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