We all want to know that medical care will be available for ourselves and our loved ones when we need it. Since Idaho’s draconian abortion ban took effect, we’ve seen chaos and suffering for both patients and healthcare providers. The recent Supreme Court decision in Moyle vs. United States provides a sliver of temporary relief; it does not change the fact that women are being denied care.

Moyle vs. United States centered around whether the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), a law enacted by President Reagan requiring hospital emergency rooms to stabilize patients, preempts Idaho’s extreme abortion ban. The Supreme Court decision is limited. It didn’t decide whether states with abortion bans must comply with federal law around emergency medical care. Instead, the justices sent the question back to the lower courts and reinstated the lower court order asserting EMTALA protections.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson aptly wrote, “Today’s decision is not a victory for pregnant patients in Idaho. It is a delay. While this court dawdles and the country waits, pregnant people experiencing emergency medical conditions remain in a precarious position…”

Nicole Miller’s story, reported in the New York Times, is a harrowing example of the impact of legal uncertainty. As a pregnant Boise mother to young daughters, Nicole went to the emergency room with heavy bleeding. Fearing that following their medical judgment could land them in prison, doctors decided to airlift her to Utah for the emergency care she needed. By the time she was on the plane, she had lost a liter of blood. She survived the ordeal, but suffered needlessly.

For the six months this year, Idaho patients went without emergency care protections. Republican leaders celebrated and cases like Nicole’s accelerated. Idaho’s largest health system was airlifting patients every two weeks.

Idaho Democrats are working to ensure women receive needed care, but we’re up against a GOP supermajority content with the mess it’s made. Our entire Democratic caucus cosponsored legislation to restore our freedom to make intimate reproductive healthcare decisions. Republican leaders refused to give it a hearing. Physician advocates pushed a bill to create an extremely narrow exception for patients facing serious health risks. Republican leaders refused to give it a hearing.

Even the extremely conservative U.S. Supreme Court admonished Idaho’s Republican leaders. Justice Barrett wrote that their statements, which prompted the court to temporarily lift the emergency care protections, were unfounded.

Idaho Democrats stand with the majority of Idahoans. We believe women must be able to access medical care, including abortion, to preserve their health and future fertility. We trust women to make decisions about their own bodies, health care, and future. Together, we continue our fight for reproductive freedom.


Lauren Necochea
Idaho Democratic Party Chair