Accidental release reveals forthcoming Supreme Court ruling on Idaho abortion law

(The Daily Signal) – The Supreme Court appears prepared to allow emergency room doctors in Idaho to perform abortions in certain situations, according to a copy of a forthcoming court ruling…

(The Daily Signal) – The Supreme Court appears prepared to allow emergency room doctors in Idaho to perform abortions in certain situations, according to a copy of a forthcoming court ruling accidentally posted Wednesday.

The apparent 6-3 decision reinstates a lower court’s order that required Idaho hospitals to perform emergency abortions to protect the health of the mother. The preliminary ruling said the court is dismissing the case as “improvidently granted,” meaning it decided it should not review the case. 

The court quickly deleted the opinion from its website after the accidental posting. The brief release was a rare protocol breach, reminiscent of the early May 2022 leak of the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which was issued in late June.

The posted version indicated the majority will dismiss appeals by Idaho and its Republican leaders, according to the report by Bloomberg News, which obtained a copy of the opinion before it was taken down.

The court maintains, however, that the copy of the opinion isn’t necessarily the final ruling.

“The Court’s Publications Unit inadvertently and briefly uploaded a document to the Court’s website,” Patricia McCabe, the court’s public information officer, told Bloomberg. “The Court’s opinion in Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States will be issued in due course.”

The court did not immediately respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

Before the ruling, Idaho law protected life in all cases except when the life of the mother is in danger.

The Supreme Court appears set to rule that Idaho’s Defense of Life Act, which took effect in August 2022, conflicts with 1986’s federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. The latter requires hospital emergency departments that accept Medicaid funds to either provide available treatment required to “stabilize” a patient’s emergency medical condition or transfer that patient to another medical facility.

Three conservative justices—Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch—appeared to object to the decision.

Idaho law prohibited abortions except when a physician determines “in his good faith medical judgment … that the abortion was necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman.”

“A frustrating outcome, no doubt, for those of us who recognize state authority to protect the unborn,” Sarah Parshall Perry, a senior legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said in a post on X.

The Supreme Court heard arguments on April 24 for the two consolidated cases, Moyle v. Idaho and Idaho v. United States.

The Biden administration argued that state and federal laws were in conflict because the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act allows doctors to perform abortions to address risks to a woman’s health, which the Idaho law does not.

Idaho held that its law and the federal law are consistent because EMTALA doesn’t mandate a particular treatment for particular medical conditions. The federal law leaves that to doctors, who must exercise their best medical judgment in the context of laws and regulations of the states in which they practice.

The Biden administration sued Idaho in August 2022, seeking an injunction to prevent the state from enforcing its pro-life law. A U.S. District Court granted the injunction and the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit agreed.

Thomas Jipping and Sarah Parshall Perry contributed to this report.