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Emergency Abortion Care

April 19, 2024

Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States

Professors Allison K. Hoffman and Kate Shaw explain the high stakes of Idaho v. U.S.

Next week, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Idaho v. U.S. and decide whether a federal law requiring emergency room care for life-threatening cases means ER doctors in states with strict abortion bans must nevertheless terminate pregnancies in certain circumstances.

Allison K. Hoffman, Professor of Law and Deputy Dean, and Kate Shaw, Professor of Law, explain the high stakes of this case.

Allison K. Hoffman

Allison K. Hoffman, Professor of Law & Deputy Dean Allison K. Hoffman, Professor of Law & Deputy Dean

Idaho v. U.S. is an important case because it will determine if doctors in Idaho can continue to perform abortions in situations where a pregnant person comes to a hospital with complications and risks that they think requires an abortion.

In the wake of Dobbs, Idaho passed an abortion law that only allows providers to abort a pregnancy to save a pregnant person’s life. The federal law called EMTALA requires hospitals and doctors to provide care to avoid placing a patient’s health in serious jeopardy. If the Court rules that the Idaho law trumps the federal law, pregnant people with emergent or critical conditions will be in jeopardy of not being able to get the care they need when they need it. It could also set the precedent for other states to follow suit.

Kate Shaw

Kate Shaw, Professor of Law Kate Shaw, Professor of LawDuring the April 15 episode of Shaw’s podcast, “Strict Scrutiny,” she explained that “what’s at stake in this case is how much pain and long-term injury states can force women to endure by denying them necessary abortions. This is about a situation where someone who is pregnant shows up at a hospital presenting with severe complications and risks, and a physician believes that the patient is at serious risk of bodily injury. It’s about whether hospitals can be permitted to perform abortions, where the doctors believe those abortions are necessary to prevent serious health risks, injuries, and pain when the state wants to prohibit them from doing so.”

Read more of our esteemed faculty’s perspectives on today’s legal issues.