Tomorrow, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether a federal law requiring hospitals to provide emergency care supersedes Idaho’s near-total abortion ban.

Idaho Democratic Party Chair Lauren Necochea released the following statement ahead of oral arguments:

“An Idaho court ruled that pregnant Idahoans have a right to care during a medical emergency. Since Republican leaders appealed this decision, patients are being airlifted out of Idaho. Lives are hanging in the balance, and the doctors and nurses who provide maternal health care face even more risks and challenges if they continue practicing in our state.

“Idaho’s Republican legislative leadership, Republican attorney general, and entire Republican Congressional Delegation are in lockstep asking the Supreme Court to continue the prosecution of doctors and nurses who intervene in medical emergencies. Together, these top GOP leaders are demonstrating that there is zero room in today’s Idaho Republican Party for compassion or concern for the health of women. Without federal protections for emergency care, doctors are advising pregnant patients to get life-flight insurance. Idaho is not a safe place to raise a family. We should all be outraged.”

See coverage below:

Idaho Capital Sun: Loss of federal protection in Idaho spurs pregnant patients to plan for emergency air transport

[By Kelcie Moseley-Morris, 4/22/24]

KEY POINT: “That rise has prompted some Idaho physicians to advise their pregnant patients, or those trying to become pregnant, to purchase memberships with companies like Life Flight Network or Air St. Luke’s in the Boise area to avoid potentially significant costs if they need air transport in an emergency. With or without private insurance, the cost can be thousands of dollars.”

  • “We have limited resources in terms of helicopters, fixed-wing transports and ambulances. If we occupy an air transport with a patient who could completely receive the totality of her care right here, safely, it’s potentially dangerous for other patients,” Souza said.
  • “The thought of this becoming the new normal — I don’t want it to be the new normal,” said Blaine Patterson, director of the Air St. Luke’s program, which reported the recent increase in transports by air.
  • After the water breaks, there is often still a fetal heartbeat, even though the fetus ultimately won’t survive without amniotic fluid. And in the meantime, infection can quickly spread throughout the body and turn septic, which is life-threatening, or it can lead to hemorrhage. Without the ban in place, a doctor would likely recommend termination of the pregnancy to avoid further complications.
  • But with the ban, maternal-fetal medicine specialists like Dr. Stacy Seyb of Boise aren’t taking any chances by waiting until the law’s exception for saving the patient’s life might apply. If termination needs to be considered, he said it’s better in his judgment to send someone to a facility out of state that can freely offer termination before it’s too late. The longer an infection or other complication persists, the greater risk it poses to a patient’s health and ability to get pregnant again in the future.
  • “And there are times they may not even need the procedure. But we can’t predict that, and we can’t predict how quickly their status might change,” Seyb said. “I think it’s a great hardship, it’s an extra expense to our medical system, and it doesn’t make sense why something that I’ve been doing for 30 years of my career is now taboo.”