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Supreme Court hears case questioning legality of Idaho abortion law

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The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday over whether doctors can perform abortions in certain scenarios even in states that have banned the procedures.

The cases in question, Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States, center around whether emergency room physicians, for instance, can perform abortions when they deem it is medically necessary to save a mother from a serious complication, even if it violates Idaho’s state abortion restrictions.

Key to the case is delineating clearly under what circumstances conducting an abortion would be allowed under Idaho’s law and whether doctors could be liable if their medical judgement differs from the law or other doctors.

The high court’s case could also have major implication for the new legal landscape of stave vs. federal abortion laws.

President Joe Biden has been an outspoken critic of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, sending the legalization of abortion back to the states, where laws vary widely. Idaho’s law, which bans most abortions, highlights the new tension between state and federal restrictions.

The Biden administration has argued the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act gives the federal government power to allow these kinds of abortions.

During questioning, Justice Sonia Sotomayor pressed Idaho’s counsel on hypothetical instances of when a doctor could have to choose between his own medical judgment and possible legal ramifications.

“When Idaho law changed to make the issue whether she is going to die or not or whether she is going to have a serious medical condition, there is a big daylight by your standards,” Sotomayor said.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett jumped in as well, raising similar concerns.

Protesters on both sides gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday morning to speak out on the polarizing issue.

“If the court sides with anti-abortion extremists, states could TURN AWAY pregnant people in life-threatening pregnancy related emergencies,” the Human Rights Campaign said in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Democrats have hammered the abortion issue to rally their base since the Supreme Court reversal on Roe. v. Wade.

Republicans argue the Biden administration is trying to recreate Roe v. Wade by another means instead of letting the states decide.

Kristen Waggoner, a top attorney at Alliance Defending Freedom, called it a Biden administration “power grab to enforce a broad nationwide abortion mandate.”