The U.S. Supreme Court Reckons With the Criminalization of Abortion Care

In Idaho v. United States, the Supreme Court will be forced to face the consequences of enabling the criminalizing abortion care.

Obstructed view of U.S. Supreme Court
Police barricades surround the U.S. Supreme Court on April 29, 2021, in Washington. (Getty/Stefani Reynolds)

The stakes are immeasurably high for women in Idaho v. United States, a legal case that is scheduled for oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court on April 24, 2024. The court is set to determine whether the narrow carveouts for abortion care under Idaho’s near-total abortion ban—which carries steep criminal and civil penalties for medical providers—conflicts with the broader mandated requirements for medical providers under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA).

The conflict between Idaho’s law and EMTALA forces physicians to face an irreconcilable choice: Withhold critical stabilizing treatment required under EMTALA, or risk criminal prosecution and potential loss of professional licenses for providing stabilizing treatment for pregnant women in dire medical need of an abortion.

Idaho v. United States is a moment of reckoning for the far-right majority on the Supreme Court. The majority will be forced to grapple with the mess it made in the aftermath of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which eradicated the constitutional right to an abortion. Specifically, it will confront legal questions stemming from the widespread chaos and confusion physicians frequently endure. Also, it will have to reckon with the promise it made in Dobbs to leave abortion access to the states, since the outcome of Idaho v. United States will extend to every state regardless of where abortion is legal.

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5 Connections Between Attacks on Abortion Care and Transgender Medical Care in Idaho Court Cases Article
Photo shows a group of people demonstrating in front of the Supreme Court building. One sign reads

5 Connections Between Attacks on Abortion Care and Transgender Medical Care in Idaho Court Cases

Two court cases originating in Idaho—Idaho v. United States and Poe v. Labrador—reveal five connections between attacks on abortion care and transgender medical care and highlight how the politicization of the judiciary is fueling the politicization of medicine.

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