Supreme Court Dismisses Attempt to Enforce Idaho Abortion Ban Conflicting with Lifesaving Federal Protections for Pregnant People, Upholding Temporary Block, but Abortion Access Crisis Created by the Court Remains

by Aneesha Pappy

Reproductive Rights are LGBTQ+ Rights: According to a Guttmacher report, more than 1 in 6 (17.1%) abortion patients in the US identify as LGBTQ+.

Through this decision, the Supreme Court sends this case back to the lower courts to determine whether life-saving, stabilizing abortion care is federally protected, creating opportunities to roll back abortion access.

WASHINGTON — Today, the Supreme Court lifted its stay of a federal district court decision temporarily blocking Idaho’s near-total abortion ban from being in effect. This stay came from a legal challenge by the United States arguing that prosecuting physicians under the Idaho law would violate the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), a federal law requiring that Medicare-funded hospitals with emergency services provide necessary stabilizing treatment to patients, including pregnant people, regardless of whether they have the ability to pay. This lawsuit seeks a ruling finding that EMTALA takes precedence over Idaho’s ban. With this 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court decided that the case must first work its way through the lower courts before it will issue a ruling on that question.

Though this decision allows EMTALA’s protections to be enforced in Idaho for now, the Supreme Court delayed affirming EMTALA’s protections for pregnant people nationally by dismissing the stay petition and sending this case back to the lower courts. This delay keeps access to critical care for pregnant people at risk. Additionally, this decision does not prevent other states with total abortion bans from filing similar lawsuits challenging efforts to enforce EMTALA, leaving the door open for roll-backs to abortion access.

Human Rights Campaign President Kelley Robinson released the following statement:

The health and safety of patients should never be up for debate. With this decision, the Supreme Court has shamefully refused to solidify emergency abortion protections nationally, leaving access to stabilizing, life-saving abortion care under threat. Abortions should be accessible for everyone, everywhere—not just in emergency circumstances. The fight for reproductive freedom is far from over.”

Kelley Robinson, President, the Human Rights Campaign

In 2023, the Guttmacher Institute released a report analyzing data from the 2021-22 Abortion Patient Survey, finding that more than 1 in 6 (17.1%) abortion patients in the US identify as LGBTQ+. HRC released a fact sheet that highlights the importance of reproductive freedom for members of the LGBTQ+ community, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer cisgender women, and transgender men and non-binary people assigned female at birth. The data shows that LGBTQ+ women who have been pregnant are more likely to have had unwanted or mistimed pregnancies than heterosexual women and are more likely to need abortion services as well. Lesbian (22.8%) and bisexual (27.2%) women who have been pregnant are more likely than heterosexual women (15.4%) who have been pregnant to have had an abortion, according to an analysis of data from the 2017-2019 National Survey for Family Growth conducted by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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