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Illinois Attorney General
Kwame Raoul

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September 18, 2023

Raoul Joins Coalition Supporting Challenge to Idaho Abortion Ban

Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of 24 attorneys general, filed a legal brief advocating in support of the federal government’s challenge to Idaho’s near-total ban on abortion access.

“Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, we have seen increased attempts to criminalize abortion care even in situations when the patient’s health or life is at stake,” Raoul said. “I will continue to stand with my colleagues against these efforts and ensure women in every state have access to life-saving health care.”

In their brief filed in United States of America v. Idaho, Raoul and the coalition support the federal government’s argument that Idaho’s ban conflicts with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), a federal law that requires doctors and hospitals to provide stabilizing emergency treatment to patients, including abortion.

Every hospital in the United States that operates an emergency department and participates in Medicare is subject to EMTALA. Idaho’s law is a near-total ban on abortion and subjects health care providers to possible criminal prosecution or disciplinary action for providing emergency care that is protected under EMTALA.

Raoul and the coalition argue that decades of federal guidance and court precedent have held that stabilizing treatment under EMTALA includes emergency abortion care. Preventing medical providers from performing abortions needed to treat emergency medical conditions threatens the health and lives of pregnant patients, as many pregnancy and miscarriage complications are emergency medical conditions requiring time-sensitive stabilizing treatment that can include an abortion. Raoul and the attorneys general state that if Idaho hospitals and providers do not provide the emergency abortion care required by EMTALA, patients will be forced to turn to out-of-state hospitals and providers, adding strain to other states’ emergency departments that are already struggling with overcrowding, long wait times, and staff shortages.

In August 2022, the federal government successfully sued to block enforcement of the abortion ban, arguing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho that the ban conflicts with protections afforded by EMTALA. Idaho is appealing the district court’s decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The amicus brief filed on Friday by Raoul and the coalition of attorneys general supports the federal government’s case.

Joining Raoul in filing the brief are the attorneys general of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.