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'Overreaching yet again': Top Idaho officials respond to DOJ lawsuit challenging Idaho's abortion bans

Brad Little, Lawrence Wasden
Posted at 3:34 PM, Aug 02, 2022

Idaho's top officials released statements following the Department of Justice lawsuit against the State of Idaho abortion bans.

Gov. Brad Little and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden condemned the lawsuit Tuesday, shortly after U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the U.S. is suing the state over abortion bans the DOJ claim violate federal law.

Related: Department of Justice suing State of Idaho over abortion ban, claims it violates federal law

Read Little's full statement here:

“Our nation’s highest court returned the issue of abortion to the states to regulate – end of story. The U.S. Justice Department’s interference with Idaho’s pro-life law is another example of Biden overreaching yet again while he continues to ignore issues that really should demand his attention – like crushing inflation and the open border with Mexico.

“Here in Idaho, we are proud that we have led the country in protecting preborn lives. I will continue to work with Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to vigorously uphold state sovereignty and defend Idaho’s laws in the face of federal meddling."

Wasden issued a statement Tuesday, saying it's "unfortunate" the DOJ did not discuss EMTALA with Idaho officials and instead filed the "politically motivated lawsuit."

Read Wasden's full statement here:

"Since the Dobbs decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in June, the Department has had nearly six weeks to discuss with Idaho its abortion laws and their reconciliation with EMTALA.

“Contrary to the carefully edited assertion in paragraph 25 of the Department’s complaint that Idaho’s laws are preempted, EMTALA actually states: “The provisions of this section do not preempt any State or local law requirement, except to the extent that the requirement directly conflicts with a requirement of this section.” 42 U.S.C. 1395dd(f).

“Instead of complying with the requirements of this provision and reconciling Idaho’s law with EMTALA, or even attempting to engage Idaho in a meaningful dialogue on the issue, the federal government has chosen to waste taxpayer dollars on an unnecessary lawsuit.”

IDGOP Chairwoman Dorothy Moon called the lawsuit an attempt to impose policy preferences on Idahoans by people in D.C. in a statement against the DOJ challenege.

“Today, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Biden Administration targeted Idaho by filing a direct legal challenge to Idaho’s abortion law, which will go into effect later this month. This is only the latest in a long line of examples of the federal government assailing Idaho’s cherished values and attempting to impose its policy preferences on the people of Idaho, from Washington, D.C.

The Biden Administration believes that emergency rooms should become abortion clinics. The people of Idaho disagree.”

Republican nominee for lieutenant governor Scott Bedke released a statement saying he will defend Idaho's laws.

“Joe Biden and his administration need to stay out of Idaho’s business. The Supreme Court of the United States reaffirmed that the laws surrounding abortion are to be made by the states,” said Bedke. “We will defend Idaho’s rights to determine its own policies.”

Idaho Democratic Party Chair Lauren Necochea, in a statement in support of the move by the DOJ, said Idaho's medical providers have been given an "impossible choice" of chosing between providing necessary care to patients versus prison time and called the existing laws "immoral."

"The extreme abortion ban, passed by the GOP-controlled legislature and signed by Gov. Little, endangers the lives of pregnant Idahoans and undermines the duty hospitals have to treat and stabilize sick patients," Necochea said in a statement. "Idaho’s Republican politicians would rather let a pregnancy kill a person than allow them to receive an abortion. From the Idaho Statehouse to the office of the U.S. Department of Justice, Democrats are fighting for access to reproductive health care."

3 abortion ban laws to be heard in Idaho Supreme Court

Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky has filed lawsuits challenging three recent Idaho abortion bans — the 2020 trigger ban, the 2021 six-week ban and the 2022 Texas-style ban. All three lawsuits have hearings August 3 in the Idaho Supreme Court.

As of August 2, none of the bans are in effect and abortion is still legal and available in Idaho, according to the regional branch of Planned Parenthood. With the official ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States on July 26, the 30-day provision sets the trigger law to take effect August 25 currently.

Related: Planned Parenthood, doctor file another lawsuit against Idaho's 6-week abortion ban

“We don’t have to guess what these abortion bans would mean for Idahoans – we’ve already seen the consequences in states across the nation," PPGHNAIK CEO Rebecca Gibron said in a statement on the lawsuits. "Patients are being denied access to basic health care. Physicians are being forced to choose between compromising their Hippocratic oath or risking criminalization. We cannot let this become the future in Idaho. Our state constitution is meant to protect us from government intrusion in our private, personal decisions, and we will keep fighting for our bodily freedom until the end."