Justice Department sues Idaho over state's abortion ban

The Idaho law allows for exceptions in cases of rape, incest or threat to a mother's life

Published: August 2, 2022 1:56pm

Updated: August 3, 2022 3:15pm

The Justice Department on Tuesday sued Idaho over its law that greatly restricts abortion in the state, marking the first Biden administration lawsuit related to the Supreme Court recently striking down its decades-old Roe v. Wade decision that provided a constitutional right to abortion. 

The department argues Idaho's abortion law would violate the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which requires the termination of a pregnancy if a woman's life is in danger. 

The law was passed in 2020 and is set to go into effect August 25. 

The Idaho law allows for exceptions for rape or incest that has been reported to police before the abortion.

The state will not prosecute physicians who perform abortions in "good faith medical judgement and based on the facts known" to save a woman's life. 

However, the department calls the law a "near-total ban" on abortions

"We will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that pregnant women get the medical care that they are entitled to," said Attorney General Merrick Garland in announcing the suit.

"Even in dire situations that might qualify for the Idaho law’s limited 'necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman' affirmative defense, some providers could withhold care based on a well-founded fear of criminal prosecution," federal lawyers argue.

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