Supreme Court poised to allow emergency abortions in Idaho: Report

June 26, 2024

The Supreme Court is poised to allow Idaho doctors to resume performing abortions in medical emergencies, according to Bloomberg, citing a draft opinion accidentally posted online Wednesday morning. 

In a brief statement, the court acknowledged that a document had been “inadvertently” posted on its website, reiterating that an opinion on the Idaho case has not officially been made public.

“The Court’s Publications Unit inadvertently and briefly uploaded a document to the Court’s website,” Supreme Court spokesperson Patricia McCabe acknowledged, adding that the opinion “has not been released” and would be “in due course.” 

The court is mulling whether a federal emergency care law trumps Idaho’s law that bans abortion in nearly all circumstances, except when a woman’s life is in danger. The Biden administration argued that even in states where abortion is banned, federal law says hospitals must be allowed to terminate pregnancies in rare emergencies where a patient’s life or health is at serious risk. 

According to text released by Bloomberg, the opinion indicates the majority will dismiss the case as improvidently granted, which would enable doctors in Idaho to perform emergency abortions despite state-level restrictions. The Hill has not independently verified the document.

The apparent accidental posting marks a shocking lapse of the court’s normal protocols in one of its highest-profile cases. Opinions are posted online moments after the author begins reading each aloud from the courtroom bench in a highly choreographed rollout. The document was posted on the same day the court released other opinions, most notably on a case centered on social media misinformation.

Bloomberg reported the Idaho opinion shows the court split 6-3 on lifting its stay that has enabled Idaho’s restrictions to go into effect. It would mark a major victory for the Biden administration, but dismissing the appeal from Idaho won’t resolve the legal questions and will merely send the case back to the appeals court instead of rushing it through to the highest level. 

Conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented, Bloomberg reported. 

The Supreme Court’s opinions are not final until they are officially handed down, and it remains unclear if the version reported by Bloomberg is the final version. 

The justices have been racing to meet their self-imposed deadline of finishing their work by the end of June, which would require them to release their decision in the abortion dispute and 11 other argued cases by the end of the week. 

The court has indicated it expects to release additional opinions on Thursday and Friday mornings. 

Updated 2:42 p.m.