Aug 3, 2022
US Department of Justice sues Idaho over abortion ban Transcript
The U.S Department of Justice is suing Idaho over its restrictive abortion ban set to take effect on Aug. 25, where they say that it directly conflicts with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1: (00:03)
The US Department of Justice went on the offense today in what was the Biden administration’s first legal action to guard abortion access since Roe was overturned. And they took that action against Idaho.
Speaker 2: (00:15)
Yes, they did. The DOJ is suing Idaho over the abortion ban taking effect. Later this month, Attorney General Merrick Garland says the set of laws directly conflicts with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act or EMTALA as we like to call it here. Tristan Lewis joins us with look at this lawsuit and how some of Idaho’s political leaders are responding to this news of today.
Tristan Lewis: (00:35)
Yeah. The DOJ says that they did tell the state of Idaho that this total near abortion law actually violates the federal law. And so EMTALA was enacted in 1986 where every hospital getting Medicare funds has to give the necessary treatment to stabilize a patient when they arrive at an emergency room. That’s for any condition that could put their health in serious jeopardy, which could involve an abortion. A week after the US Supreme court issued its official judgment on Dobbs v. Jackson, overturning Roe…
Merrick Garland: (01:08)
We promised that the Justice Department would work tirelessly, protect and advance reproductive freedom.
Tristan Lewis: (01:15)
The US Department of Justice is trying to fulfill its promise to fight for abortion access.
Merrick Garland: (01:21)
That is what we are doing and that is what we will continue to do.
Tristan Lewis: (01:26)
United States Attorney General Merrick Garland argued in a news conference Tuesday, “No matter what state a hospital is in, it is still subject to the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.”
Merrick Garland: (01:38)
If a patient comes into the emergency room with a medical emergency jeopardizing the patient’s life or health, the hospital must provide the treatment necessary to stabilize that patient. This includes abortion when that is the necessary treatment.
Tristan Lewis: (01:55)
The Justice Department made that message clear to the state of Idaho Tuesday with a lawsuit.
Merrick Garland: (02:00)
The suit seeks to hold invalid the state’s criminal prohibition on providing abortions as applied to women who are suffering medical emergencies.
Tristan Lewis: (02:09)
Among exceptions for rape and incest reported to police, the DOJs complaint says Idaho’s abortion ban only allows doctors to provide an abortion to prevent the mother’s death. Under Idaho law, it’s a crime for medical providers to perform abortions otherwise.
Vanita Gupta: (02:25)
The Idaho law flatly prohibits abortion even where medically necessary to protect the health of the patient, such as where women are experiencing incomplete miscarriage or severe preeclampsia.
Tristan Lewis: (02:37)
Several Idaho leaders responded to the lawsuit Tuesday, including Governor Brad Little. He said in part, “The US Justice Department’s interference with Idaho’s pro-life law is another example of Biden overreaching yet again while he continues to ignore issues that really should demand his attention. I will continue to work with Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to vigorously uphold state sovereignty and defend Idaho’s laws in the face of federal meddling.” Wasden also weighing in calling out the DOJ for not sitting down with state leaders and working something out before filing that suit. He said the federal government has chosen to waste taxpayer money on an unnecessary lawsuit. And the Fed’s lawsuit does say the Justice Department sent a letter to Idaho on Friday afternoon, but Wasden’s office says that didn’t give them just enough time to respond, so a little over 72 hours.
Speaker 2: (03:30)
Yeah. That letter said they had until Monday to respond to that which they didn’t get until Friday afternoon, so you can understand-
Speaker 1: (03:35)
One business day.
Speaker 2: (03:36)
Their frustration with like, “Well, we need a little more time to get back on this.”
Speaker 1: (03:38)
Exactly. And also not to be confused with the Planned Parenthood lawsuits which are going to be in the Idaho Supreme Court tomorrow. All right. Tristan Lewis, thank you. After the lawsuit was announced, Dorothy Moon, the new Chairwoman of the Idaho Republican Party released a statement. She said the Biden Administration challenged Idaho and, “This is only the latest in a long line of examples of the federal government assailing Idaho’s cherished values and attempting to impose its policy preferences on the people of Idaho from Washington DC. The Biden Administration believes emergency rooms should become abortion clinics.” Moon says, “The people of Idaho disagree.”
Speaker 2: (04:14)
The Idaho Democratic Party also released a statement. “Idaho’s radical abortion ban gives healthcare providers an impossible choice: withhold medically necessary care or face prison time. In states where these bans have gone into effect, providers are waiting for medical conditions to worsen before they’re able to assist their pregnant patients, increasing the risk of sepsis and other life threatening complications.” They went on to say, “The extreme abortion ban passed by the GOP controlled legislature and signed by Governor Little, endangers the lives of pregnant Idahoans and undermines the duty hospitals have to treat and stabilize sick patients.”