Supreme Court hears case challenging abortion and federal emergency treatment law - TAI News
Skip to content
The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. (Daderot, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

On April 24, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case involving an Idaho law that bans abortion and the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, or EMTALA

Although Moyle v. United States focuses on abortion law in Idaho, Dr. Kristin Lyerly, the first Democratic candidate to declare for Wisconsin’s open 8th Congressional District, told the Wisconsin Independent that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of Idaho, any patient in a state without laws that fully protect abortion could be impacted. 

A week after the fall of Roe, Wisconsin began enforcing a statute dating back to 1849 that was interpreted as making it a felony for doctors to provide abortions. Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul and Gov.Tony Evers, both Democrats, filed a lawsuit challenging the ban. In December 2023, Dane County Circuit Judge Diane Schlipper ruled that the law pertained not to abortion, but to infanticide. 

The Sheboygan County district attorney appealed Schlipper’s ruling to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The court has not yet said whether it will hear the appeal. Lyerly explained that until Wisconsin settles the case, abortion is not fully available across the state. 

“We believe that it’s important to enshrine national protection for abortion. And in Wisconsin, even though we now have abortion care back in Milwaukee and Madison and Sheboygan, the rest of the state still isn’t providing standard abortion care,” said Lyerly, a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist.

In July 2022, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance that affirmed that health care providers offering life-saving abortion care in emergency situations were protected under federal law, regardless of the laws of the state. 

In August 2022, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit challenging Idaho’s abortion ban, arguing that it violates EMTALA and puts pregnant women’s lives in danger. “We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that pregnant women get the emergency medical treatment to which they are entitled to under federal law,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said at the time the lawsuit was filed. 

Within weeks of the filing, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill granted a preliminary injunction in the case that blocked enforcement of the Idaho law as it relates to medical emergencies. A month later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued an order granting Idaho’s request to place a stay on the injunction to give the state a chance to appeal the decision. In January, the Supreme Court lifted the injunction completely and agreed to hear the DOJ’s case. 

Michelle Velasquez, the director of advocacy and services at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, told the Wisconsin Independent that the Idaho case is just another way for politicians to attack the rights and health of pregnant people.

“This federal law protects women from being refused care, essentially. Everybody should be able to get the emergency care that they need, and that includes pregnant people who need an abortion. This is cruel and this is endangering the lives of women, even in the midst of medical emergencies,” Velasquez said.

Related articles

Share this article:
Subscribe to our newsletter

The Wisconsin Independent is a project of American Independent Media, a 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to use journalism to educate the public, giving them the information they need about local and federal issues.