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State of Idaho v. United States of America

Description:  The Biden administration is attempting to use federal law, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, to force emergency room doctors to perform abortions that are illegal under Idaho law.

A pregnant woman receives an ultrasound
Tuesday, Nov 28, 2023

WASHINGTON – Twenty states have united in support of Idaho’s efforts to preserve life-saving care for women and children from federal government overreach in a friend-of-the-court brief filed at the U.S. Supreme Court in State of Idaho v. United States of America. In the case, the Biden administration is putting pregnant women and unborn children at risk by unlawfully attempting to force doctors to perform dangerous abortions that are illegal under Idaho’s Defense of Life Act.

Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador, together with attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom and Cooper & Kirk, filed an emergency application for stay pending appeal on November 20 with the Supreme Court. The emergency application asks the nation’s high court to respect Idaho’s decision to protect the lives of women and their unborn children and immediately halt a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that held that the administration could misuse the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act to force emergency room doctors to put women and children’s lives at risk.

“Women and children deserve to know that emergency room physicians will do everything possible to preserve their lives. The government has no business forcing doctors to harm women’s health and take vulnerable lives,” said ADF Senior Counsel Erin Hawley, vice president of the ADF Center for Life and regulatory practice. “Idaho’s life-saving law and EMTALA share the same goal: to save every person’s life. This includes providing care to women experiencing ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, and other life-threatening conditions. But the Biden administration is twisting the law to endanger the lives of women and their children. The states and groups that have filed briefs in support of Idaho join us in urging the Supreme Court to stop the Biden administration’s shameful abuse of power and allow emergency room doctors to freely and safely serve women and their families.”

Idaho’s law puts the lives of women and their unborn children first, preventing physicians from taking an unborn child’s life unless doing so is necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman. The federal government claims—and the lower court wrongly agreed—that it can use EMTALA to force doctors to take unborn children’s lives, when EMTALA requires that emergency rooms provide life-saving care to all, including pregnant women and their “unborn child[ren].”

“[T]he United States’ position would permit the Executive Branch to seek decrees overriding all manner of state laws and fundamentally transform the relationships among citizens, their States, and the United States. Amici States have a profound interest in the swift rejection of that position to preserve the federalist structure, their power to regulate for the welfare of their citizens, and laws adopted by citizens’ representatives to protect unborn children from intentional destruction,” the brief led by the state of Indiana, and joined by 19 other states, explains.

Idaho also received friend-of-the-court support from Advancing American Freedom and 29 other organizations, the Institute for Faith and Family, and the Catholic Health Care Leadership Alliance and others.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.

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ABOUT Erin Morrow Hawley

Erin Morrow Hawley serves as senior counsel and vice president of the Center for Life and regulatory practice at Alliance Defending Freedom. Before joining ADF, Hawley practiced appellate law at Kirkland and Ellis LLP, Bancroft LLP, and King & Spalding LLP. Hawley has litigated extensively before the U.S. Supreme Court as well as numerous federal courts of appeals and state courts of last resort. She also worked at the U.S. Department of Justice, serving as counsel to Attorney General Michael Mukasey. As an academic, Hawley served as an associate professor of law at the University of Missouri and she also taught constitutional law as a senior fellow at the Kinder Institute for Constitutional Democracy. Hawley is a former law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Hawley received her bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from Texas A&M University and her law degree from Yale Law School where she served as a Coker Fellow in Constitutional Law and on the Yale Law Journal. She is an active member of the Missouri and District of Columbia bars and is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and various federal courts of appeals.