Case Update: Supreme Court Grants Cert in Case Challenging Idaho Abortion Restrictions

Feb. 12, 2024

Protestors stand in front of the U.S. Supreme Court under a blue sky holding signs including "Keep abortion safe and legal" and "We're not going back, not ever," and "You can only ban safe abortions."

On August 22, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit, United States v. State of Idaho, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho to protect what it alleged were rights of patients to access emergency abortion care guaranteed by federal law. The suit challenged Idaho Code § 18-622, passed in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs, which was set to go into effect on Aug. 25, 2022 and would impose a near-total ban on abortion in the state. The complaint sought a declaratory judgment that § 18-622 conflicted with, and was preempted by, the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd, in situations where an abortion is necessary stabilizing treatment for an emergency medical condition, and an order permanently enjoining the Idaho law to the extent it conflicted with EMTALA.

On August 24, 2022, the district court granted the DOJ’s motion for a preliminary injunction, reasoning that it was not possible for healthcare workers to simultaneously comply with their obligations under EMTALA and Idaho Code § 18-622. On September 28, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stayed the injunction pending consideration of the appeal of district court's preliminary injunction order.  Two days later, the Ninth Circuit, upon en banc reconsideration, lifted the stay.  On January 5, 2024, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the preliminary injunction.  Moreover, treating the application for a stay as a petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment, it granted the petition and scheduled the case for argument.  Argument is expected in April 2024.  

Read more about the case and find relevant documents here