An attendee at Planned Parenthood's Bans Off Our Bodies rally for abortion rights holds a sign reading "Idaho the women as property state" outside of the Idaho Statehouse in downtown Boise, Idaho, on Saturday, May 14, 2022. (Sarah A. Miller/Idaho Statesman via AP)
CNN  — 

Idaho asked the Supreme Court on Monday to allow its state abortion ban that imposes penalties on doctors who perform abortions to take full effect despite federal requirements for emergency room doctors.

The case comes to the high court more than a year after the justices overturned a constitutional right to abortion, altering the landscape of abortion rights nationwide and triggering more than half the states, including Idaho, to outlaw or severely restrict the procedure.

Idaho’s Defense of Life Act is a near total ban on abortion, but there is an exception to prevent the mother’s death. The law imposes penalties on doctors who perform prohibited abortions unless the “physician determined in good faith medical judgement and based on the facts known to the physician at the time, that the abortion was necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman.” Physicians who violate the law could face criminal penalties and risks the suspension of their licenses.

But a district court blocked the law in hospital emergency rooms that receive Medicare funding, holding that the state law interferes with a federal Medicare statute.

The United States sued, claiming that a provision of a federal Medicare statue – the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) preempts Idaho’s law in emergency rooms. The federal law requires hospitals to provide stabilizing care to emergency room patients regardless of their ability to pay. The law was enacted to ensure that the poor and uninsured receive emergency medical care at hospitals receiving Medicare reimbursement.

In 2022 Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the US District Court for the District of Idaho said that the “broad scope” of Idaho’s near total ban on abortion meant that he was not convinced that it would be possible for emergency health care workers to “simultaneously comply with obligations” under both state and federal law. “The state law must therefore yield to federal law to the extent of that conflict.”

A federal appeals court initially agreed to put the district court ruling on hold pending appeal, but a larger panel of judges on the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the stay on November 13.

Now the state, represented by a conservative legal group that opposes abortion, is asking the Supreme Court to step in on an emergency basis to put the district court ruling on hold while appeals play out.

“After Dobbs,” Erin Hawley a lawyer for the Alliance Defending Freedom told the justices in court papers, “the United States adopted the novel view that EMTALA creates a federal right to abortion in emergency rooms, even though EMTALA is silent on abortion and actually requires stabilizing for the unborn children of pregnant women.”

A similar case is pending in Texas.