Opinions / Op-eds

Idaho’s Law is Designed to Save Women’s Lives

Idaho’s law is designed to save women’s lives. The Biden administration is pushing a false narrative.

Women in Idaho deserve the best possible medical care and their lives should always be protected. Full stop.

My office recently defended our Defense of Life Act before the U.S. Supreme Court against the Biden administration’s attempt to finagle federal law to override Idaho’s law that explicitly protects both the lives of women and their unborn children. Not only does our law ensure women receive life-saving care, but the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) also requires that hospitals provide life-saving care to women in emergency rooms. As we told the Supreme Court, Idaho’s law harmonizes seamlessly with federal law in working to preserve every woman’s life.

But the Biden administration—aided by the mainstream media—continues to peddle fear, spreading blatant misinformation about the impact of Idaho’s law. The claim, originating in a friend-of-the-court brief submitted by St. Luke’s Health System in support of the Biden administration, is that Idaho’s law is forcing hospitals to transport women with “life-threatening” conditions to other states to receive abortions. But Idaho’s law requires no such thing. Under Idaho’s law, doctors are expected to use their best medical judgment to preserve every woman’s life.

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Ignoring the facts, however, the media has quickly grabbed onto this narrative, causing confusion and angst for women who deserve better. I want to set the record straight because the people of Idaho—and the entire country—deserve the truth, not half-baked narratives that advance the lawless agenda of the Biden administration over the lives and well-being of women. 

So let me be very clear. Under Idaho law, women facing life-threatening conditions should be treated and provided whatever care or procedures they need to save their lives. That’s what the law requires, and the Idaho Supreme Court has been very clear about this. My office has been equally clear in all our filings in court: if a doctor believes in good faith that the termination of a woman’s pregnancy is necessary to save her life—regardless of how imminent that risk is—Idaho law allows it. St. Luke’s and other hospitals shouldn’t airlift a woman out of our state to perform an abortion necessary to save her life because such procedures are already permitted.

Women may need to be airlifted to larger hospitals because maternity wards in smaller, rural communities don’t have access to the fullest necessary care, and in some cases, the closest hospital that meets their needs might be out of state. Indeed, maternity wards are increasingly closing all over the country, including in states like Oregon which allows abortion up until birth. But being emergency airlifted because hospitals lack the facilities necessary to provide women facing pregnancy complications the care needed is very from the claim that Idaho’s law is creating a need to transport them out of state.

The contention that doctors are “paralyzed by uncertainties” also concerns me. No woman facing life-threatening conditions should ever need to be airlifted to another state for an abortion. And if hospitals are doing so, they are grossly misinterpreting our law. Idaho’s law contemplates life-threatening conditions, including sepsis, and expects doctors to do everything in their power to protect women, even if that means the tragic loss of her unborn child. Our law is about saving lives and is clear that an abortion in these situations is allowable. Nothing in Idaho law requires a hospital to delay life-saving care, and hospitals would only be harming women’s health by doing so.

As your attorney general, I will continue my outreach to doctors and hospitals across Idaho to ensure that they know what the law requires and are prepared to do all they can to save women’s lives. If you are a doctor or hospital administrator uncertain about the law’s parameters or need guidance to ensure every woman’s life is protected, please contact me. I have had very productive conversations with members of the medical community and will continue to talk to anyone who has questions. And if you work at a hospital that believes Idaho’s law requires it to transport women facing life-threatening conditions to another state to have an abortion, let us know so we can clear up any confusion.

The Biden administration shouldn’t use women as pawns. Under the guise of caring about life, the administration is fearmongering and spreading inaccuracies about the contours of a law that seeks to protect women’s lives. That will not stand. In Idaho, we value women’s health and well-being. My promise remains: I will do everything in my power as attorney general to ensure every woman’s life is safeguarded.

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