In a representative democracy, citizens rightfully expect elected leaders to care about their health and well-being. However, recent events in Idaho paint a disturbing picture of the blatant disregard by many Republican politicians:

On a Monday, reports emerged revealing that Idaho’s largest health system is now forced to airlift patients with pregnancy complications out of state almost every other week. This is due to the suspension of a court ruling that had prevented the prosecution of doctors for abortion care in narrow medical emergencies.

The following day, every member of Idaho’s Republican Congressional delegation urged the Supreme Court to uphold the state’s ability to prosecute doctors in such emergencies.

By Wednesday, the Republican Attorney General’s Office and the supermajority were using taxpayer dollars to defend Idaho’s harsh law to the U.S. Supreme Court, again denying emergency care.

This sequence of events is not a work of fiction but a harsh reality. It showcases there is no room for compassion or concern for women’s health within today’s Idaho Republican Party, even when there is abundant evidence about the harm their laws are causing.

Last summer, an Idaho judge ruled that if a medical provider determines a patient needs abortion care to stabilize her health, this treatment must be provided per a federal law signed by Ronald Regan, called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA).

This decision should have been seen as a lifeline — a chance to affirm a commitment to patient health in emergencies. Idaho’s Republican legislative leaders and Attorney General Raúl Labrador chose to appeal immediately.

This decision led to Moyle vs. United States, the case before the U.S. Supreme Court that will determine whether EMTALA supersedes Idaho’s near-total abortion ban, which lacks exceptions for cases threatening a patient from deteriorating health, severe organ damage, disability, or loss of future fertility.

Even when Idaho had EMTALA protections, the harm caused by the extreme abortion ban is evident. Since it took effect, our state has lost nearly a quarter of our OBGYNs, over half our maternal and fetal medicine specialists, and three labor and delivery wards.

As I walked my 12-year-old daughter to school, we listened to the live stream of oral arguments before the Supreme Court. She was captivated, realizing these discussions would impact her future healthcare options. She ran into the building and said, “Tell me how it ends!”

The Supreme Court’s decision is months away, but regardless of their ruling, it won’t fully restore reproductive freedoms for Idaho women. How this story ends depends on the voters. We must start electing lawmakers who will give women back the freedom to make intimate medical decisions in consultation with their families and healthcare providers.


Lauren Necochea
Idaho Democratic Party Chair