Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Idaho over its strict abortion law. It is the first lawsuit filed to protect access to reproductive care since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Idaho's law, which was passed in 2020 and set to take effect later this month, makes it a felony to provide an abortion after six weeks, except in cases in which the mother's life is in danger. It also provides exceptions for cases of rape or incest that have been previously reported to the police. Violators of the law face up to five years in prison.
Garland said that Idaho's ban violates the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which requires any hospital receiving Medicare funds to "provide medical treatment necessary to stabilize that condition before transferring or discharging the patient."
Garland told reporters that the lawsuit does not conflict with the Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.
"The Supreme Court said that each state can make its own decisions with respect to abortion, but so too can the federal government," he said. "Nothing that the Supreme Court said, said that the statutes passed by Congress, such as EMTALA, are in any way invalid. It's quite the opposite. The Supreme Court left it to the people's representatives. EMTALA was a decision made by the Congress of the United States. The supremacy clause is a decision made in the Constitution of the United States. Federal law invalidates state laws that are in direct contradiction."