(The Center Square) – Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has joined 20 other attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in support of the U.S. Department of Justice’s challenge to Idaho’s new abortion law.
The lawsuit claims that Idaho’s law – a near-total ban on the procedure set to go into effect on Aug. 25 – does not have adequate exemptions to protect emergency lifesaving treatment for pregnant women under the federal Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act.
According to the DOJ’s lawsuit, the act requires hospitals to provide emergency care to all, including abortions if necessary, to save the life of the mother in cases such as an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage.
The lawsuit is the first major action by the DOJ challenging a state trigger law since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, sending the controversial abortion issue back to the individual states to set their own laws on the practice.
Ferguson contends Washington residents in Idaho could be illegally denied emergency care because of the law.
He added the law will drive more Idaho residents to seek abortions in Washington.
“We are already seeing a significant influx of Idahoans seeking abortion services in Washington, and that will only increase with this new, restrictive law,” Ferguson said in a Tuesday press release. “What happens in Idaho directly impacts Washington. Not only is Idaho’s near-total ban on abortion wrong; it violates federal law.”
The amicus brief includes specific mentions of the impact Idaho’s abortion law is having on Washington.
According to the brief, “In eastern Washington, clinics have already reported a massive influx of patients from Idaho: one clinic reported that 78% of its patients in July 2022 were from Idaho (almost double the rate from the prior year), and another clinic reported that it was already fully booked multiple weeks out due to increased demand.”
The brief goes on to say, “Emergency rooms in Oregon and Washington will inevitably need to absorb the out-of-state patient need for care that Idaho’s law will cause, at a time when the States continue to wrestle with an ongoing global pandemic and new public health crises. Emergency departments are already faced with overcrowding, long wait times, and staff shortages, especially in rural and underserved areas such as those parts of Oregon and Washington that share a border with Idaho. An additional influx of patients needing urgent care to address an emergency medical condition will only add to these concerns.”
The pro-abortion research organization the Guttmacher Institute in October 2021 projected a 385% increase in demand for abortion in Washington, contingent upon Roe being overturned.
Ferguson also signed onto a second amicus brief Tuesday against Texas and anti-abortion organizations that are challenging the federal court’s authority to enforce the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act in Texas.