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Judge rules in favor of Justice Department in Idaho's federal abortion ban lawsuit, cannot prosecute doctors

Posted at 6:38 PM, Aug 24, 2022

BOISE, Idaho — U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill issued a written ruling Wednesday, siding with the U.S. Justice Department.

In the ruling, Winmill ordered the partial blocking of the law — allowing it to take effect — but not allowing any prosecution of doctors or suspension of medical licenses until a final judgment is made.

The Justice Department announced the lawsuit on August 2. During a hearing Monday, the DOJ argued Idaho's total abortion ban violated the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA.

EMTALA was adopted by the U.S. Congress in 1986 as a way to ensure that anyone facing a medical emergency is treated regardless of ability to pay or insurance status. The federal law requires hospitals that receive Medicare funding to treat and stabilize patients during medical emergencies where an abortion might be needed.

The State of Idaho argued this would not conflict with federal law in the real world, and this lawsuit was federal overreach and an attempt to have the court deem the entire law unconstitutional.

During Monday's hearing, Winmill said "I won't enjoin anything more than what the United States has asked for."

The judge hinted the phrasing of the law and the legislature's intent might violate federal law.

The United States Government asked the judge to block the law where it conflicts with EMTALA, not allow the state to prosecute or attempt to revoke the license of medical providers who may be authorized to perform emergency abortions under EMTALA, to block the enforcement of the law where it conflicts with EMTALA, the Federal Government's court costs and anything else the judge sees just and proper.

Read the full ruling by Judge B. Lynn Winmil here:

This story was originally published by KIVI in Boise, Idaho.