DOJ sues Idaho over abortion ban; Biden to sign second executive order to expand abortion access

by Chris Lange

Chris Lange, FISM News


The Biden administration is suing the state of Idaho to challenge an abortion ban set to go into effect this month, marking the first time the federal government has challenged a state’s abortion law since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

While Idaho’s ban makes an exception in cases where a pregnant woman risks death, the Department of Justice says the law’s exclusion of an exception for women whose health may be at risk violates the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA).

Gov. Brad Little (R) accused the Biden administration of overreach in a statement addressing the lawsuit.

Our nation’s highest court returned the issue of abortion to the states to regulate – end of story. The U.S. Justice Department’s interference with Idaho’s pro-life law is another example of Biden overreaching yet again while he continues to ignore issues that really should demand his attention – like crushing inflation and the open border with Mexico.


Here in Idaho, we are proud that we have led the country in protecting preborn lives. I will continue to work with Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to vigorously uphold state sovereignty and defend Idaho’s laws in the face of federal meddling.” 

The Justice Department claims that EMTALA protects abortion rights “in situations where an abortion is necessary stabilizing treatment for an emergency medical condition,” according to a press release.

“On the day Roe and Casey were overturned, we promised that the Justice Department would work tirelessly to protect and advance reproductive freedom,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said. “We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that pregnant women get the emergency medical treatment to which they are entitled under federal law.”

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra argued that people “have the right to stabilizing hospital emergency room care no matter where they live,” adding that “women should not have to be near death to get care.” Becerra vowed that the HHS and DHS will continue to partner together “to enforce federal law protecting access to health care, including abortions.” 

This is the most recent instance of the White House seeking out loopholes to reclaim legislation over abortion rights. In June, Biden threw his support behind changing Senate filibuster rules in hopes to codify federal abortion protections. He has also faced pressure from progressive Democrats to take even more extreme measures, like packing the Supreme Court with liberal justices.

Meanwhile, President Biden is expected to sign an executive order today building on last month’s EO which expanded access to abortion-inducing medication and ensure protections for women who travel out of state to have abortions.

The latest action directs HHS to explore the use of funds including Medicaid to help women travel out of states that have restricted or banned abortions to undergo abortions in states where no such bans are in place. The measure also instructs the department to enforce healthcare provider compliance with federal non-discrimination laws and to also collect data on the impact “that diminishing access to reproductive health care services has on women’s health.”

The president will sign the EO during the first meeting of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access formed last month in response to the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, according to the White House.