Supreme Court

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court appears poised to allow emergency abortions in Idaho when a pregnant patient’s health is at serious risk, according to Bloomberg News, which said a copy of the opinion was briefly posted Wednesday on the court’s website.

The document suggests the court will conclude that it should not have gotten involved in the case so quickly and will reinstate a lower court order that had allowed hospitals in the state to perform emergency abortions to protect a pregnant patient’s health, Bloomberg said. It does not appear likely to fully resolve the issues at the heart of the case.

The Supreme Court acknowledged that a document was inadvertently posted Wednesday. That document was quickly removed.

“The Court’s Publications Unit inadvertently and briefly uploaded a document to the Court’s website. The Court’s opinion in Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States will be issued in due course,” court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said in a statement.

The case would continue at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals if the Supreme Court dismisses the proceedings.

The finding may not be the court’s final ruling because the justices’ decision has not been officially released.

The Biden administration sued Idaho, arguing that hospitals must provide abortions to stabilize pregnant patients in rare emergency cases when their health is at serious risk.

Most Republican-controlled states began enforcing restrictions after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade two years ago. Idaho is among 14 states that outlaw abortion at all stages of pregnancy with very limited exceptions. Idaho argued its ban does allow abortions to save a pregnant patient’s life and that federal law does not require the exceptions to expand.

The opinion briefly posted would reverse the Supreme Court’s earlier order that allowed the Idaho law to go into effect, even in medical emergencies, while the case played out. Several women have since needed medical airlifts in cases in which abortion is routine treatment to avoid infection, hemorrhage and other dire health risks, Idaho doctors have said.

The Supreme Court’s eventual ruling could have ripple effects on emergency care in other states with strict abortion bans. Reports of pregnant women being denied care spiked after the Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling overturning the constitutional right to abortion, according to federal documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The Justice Department’s lawsuit came under a federal law that requires hospitals accepting Medicare to provide stabilizing care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. The law is the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA.

Nearly all hospitals accept Medicare, so emergency room doctors in Idaho and other states with bans would have to provide abortions if needed to stabilize a pregnant patient and avoid serious health risks such as the loss of reproductive organs, the Justice Department argued.

Idaho argued that its exception for a patient’s life covers dire health circumstances and that the Biden administration misread the law to circumvent the state ban and expand abortion access.

Doctors have said Idaho’s law has made them fearful to perform abortions, even when a pregnancy is putting a patient’s health severely at risk. The law requires anyone who is convicted of performing an abortion to be imprisoned for at least two years.

A federal judge initially sided with the Democratic administration and ruled that abortions were legal in medical emergencies. After the state appealed, the Supreme Court allowed the law to go fully into effect in January.