1. Justices Tussle Over Emergency Abortions, Case from Idaho weighs doctors’ responsibility when patients are in crisis, By Jess Bravin, The Wall Street Journal, April 25, 2024, Pg. A4
The Supreme Court struggled Wednesday with the consequences of its 2022 decision ending the nationwide right to abortion, in a case pitting the health of women suffering medical emergencies against an Idaho law that bans the procedure.
The state asked the justices to overrule lower court orders allowing doctors to perform emergency abortions when necessary to stabilize a patient. The Biden administration, which sued Idaho, argued that under a federal law governing emergency care, doctors can provide abortions they judge medically necessary to treat a woman experiencing a serious health scare.

Idaho’s abortion law is stricter, permitting the procedure only to save a woman’s life, and on Wednesday the state’s lawyer, Joshua Turner, told the court that it was the state’s prerogative to define the scope of permissible medical treatments.
Liberal justices challenged that view.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, a member of the court’s conservative wing, suggested that the Idaho law wasn’t as rigid as it might appear and that doctors could perform emergency abortions on patients who might be at future risk of dying but were yet to arrive at death’s door.

Justice Samuel Alito questioned how broad the federal government believed the health exception should extend.

Turner sought to assure the justices that in practice, little differed between the requirements of the state and federal laws.
2. The Looming Decision That Could Get Pro-Choice Voters to the Polls, By Mary Ziegler, The New York Times, April 25, 2024, Opinion
But a decision in the second case, on access to emergency abortions, may have much more profound consequences, both for November’s election and the ongoing struggle over reproductive rights. The case centers on the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, known as EMTALA, a federal law that was passed in the 1980s to prevent hospitals from turning away emergency-room patients who could not afford to pay. At issue is whether EMTALA requires physicians to offer emergency abortions even when state abortion bans — including those enacted after the overturning of Roe — do not permit them. The Biden administration brought suit against Idaho in federal court, arguing that federal law does pre-empt state policy on the matter.
Listening to Wednesday’s oral arguments, it was hard to say with certainty which side will prevail. But given the questions asked by the court’s conservative majority, and the fact that the court had allowed the state’s law to remain in effect during the litigation, the strongest possibility is that the court will side with Idaho. If that happens, pregnant women facing medical emergencies will be more likely to be refused care, and the Biden administration will face a searing reminder of the risks of litigating before the conservative Supreme Court supermajority. Such a loss for the Biden administration could, at the same time, provide a political opportunity for the Biden campaign — and that could matter deeply in the long term, given the high stakes of this election, not least for abortion access.

If Idaho does win this case, there’s a question of how broad that opinion would be — or on what foundation the court will rely. That was difficult to parse on Wednesday. At a few points, Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch cited language in EMTALA that refers to the “unborn child” — seeming to suggest that EMTALA does not require access to abortion in emergencies because it treats both fetuses and pregnant people as patients deserving of stabilizing treatment. This was a nod toward fetal personhood — the anti-abortion movement’s ultimate goal, to secure full legal rights for fetuses. But it seems unlikely the court will issue a decision that significantly advances the personhood cause in this case.
More likely is that the court rules on whether EMTALA creates a standard of care that requires physicians to protect the health of pregnant patients, as the Biden administration argues — or whether the statute imposes no limit at all on states like Idaho.
What is certain is that there will be more uncertainty for physicians and patients until the court hands down a decision, most likely in June.

A loss in the EMTALA case may not convince some voters to overcome the skepticism with which they view Mr. Biden. But it will make abundantly clear that whatever Mr. Trump may suggest, the abortion struggle at the federal level is not over by a long shot.
3. Pope Francis may visit United States in September after UN invitation, By Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency, April 25, 2024, 7:22 AM
Pope Francis is reportedly considering returning to the United States in September to speak before the United Nations General Assembly.
The news was initially reported by the French Catholic newspaper La Croix and has not yet been officially confirmed by the Vatican. A source from the Vatican Secretariat of State, meanwhile, told CNA this week that “a formal invitation has arrived from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and Pope Francis seems inclined to respond positively.”
If the New York trip occurs, the pope would visit the United Nations during its “Summit of the Future,” which the international body will convene from Sept. 22–23.
The possible trip to the United States could change the pope’s already-busy September travel schedule. The Holy See Press Office has announced that Pope Francis will be in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, and Singapore from Sept. 2–13.

4. Tennessee would criminalize helping minors get abortions under bill heading to governor, By Kimberlee Kruesi, Associated Press, April 24, 2024, 3:56 PM
Tennessee is poised to become the second state in the nation to make it illegal for adults to help minors get an abortion without parental consent, a proposal that is likely to face immediate legal challenges should Gov. Bill Lee sign it into law.
Tennessee’s GOP-dominant Statehouse approved the bill Wednesday, clearing the way for the measure to head to the Republican governor’s desk. While Lee hasn’t publicly commented on the proposal, he has repeatedly defended enacting the state’s sweeping abortion ban and stressed his opposition to the procedure.
Yet, even if Lee signs the measure into law, reproductive rights advocates are expected to move quickly to ask a court to block the statute from being enforced. Last year, Idaho became the first state to enact the so-called “ abortion trafficking ” law, but a federal judge has since temporarily blocked the law after reproductive rights groups sued to challenge it.

5. Arizona House advances a repeal of the state’s near-total abortion ban to the Senate, By Jacques Billeaud And Jonathan J. Cooper, Associated Press, April 24, 2024, 8:31 AM
A proposed repeal of Arizona’s near-total ban on abortions won approval from the state House Wednesday after two weeks of mounting pressure on Republicans over an issue that has bedeviled former President Donald Trump’s campaign to return to the White House.
Three Republicans joined in with all 29 Democrats Wednesday to repeal a law that predated Arizona’s statehood and provides no exceptions for rape or incest. If the Senate approves as expected, Arizona would allow abortions up to 15 weeks.
Their political ambitions imperiled by widespread opposition to a near-total abortion ban, Trump and U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake had urged Arizona lawmakers to ease the restrictions. But until Wednesday, most state House Republicans repeatedly used procedural votes to block repeal, each time drawing condemnation from Democratic President Joe Biden, who has made his support for abortion rights central to his reelection campaign.

6. Guess what’s not a priority in antiabortion Idaho. Women’s health., By Ruth Marcus, The Washington Post, April 24, 2024, 5:25 PM, Opinion
On most days at the Supreme Court, the fact that there are now four female justices feels irrelevant. Great, but irrelevant. Gender doesn’t matter much when it comes to the complexities of federal security law or the availability of habeas corpus.
Wednesday wasn’t one of those days. Gender — in particular, the fact that the three liberal justices are all women — felt omnipresent at the oral argument in Moyle v. United States. This is the case, one of two abortion-related disputes at the Supreme Court this term, involving the federal law known as EMTALA, which requires hospital emergency rooms to provide “stabilizing care.” The Biden administration said this provision could require abortions for women facing serious health risks from continuing their pregnancies and filed suit against Idaho, where state law criminalizes abortion except to save the life of the mother.

The fourth female justice, Amy Coney Barrett, is no fan of abortion rights, and it is hard to see her ruling against Idaho, but even she seemed more interested than her male colleagues in understanding the precise contours and practical implications of Idaho’s draconian law. “You are hedging,” she chided Idaho lawyer Joshua Turner at one point, as she grilled him about when the emergency exceptions would apply.
And it seemed fitting that the advocates, too, divided along gender lines, with Turner matched — or outmatched — by Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar, a fellow Idahoan.

Justice Elena Kagan could scarcely conceal her exasperation with Idaho’s reading of the law.
“Your theory of EMTALA is … that a state tomorrow could say even if death is around the corner, a state tomorrow could say even if there’s an ectopic pregnancy, that still, that’s a choice of the state and EMTALA has nothing to say about it,” she told Turner.
“And that understanding is a humble one with respect to the federalism role of states as the primary health-care providers for their citizens, not the federal government,” Turner replied.
“It may be too humble for women’s health, you know?” Kagan said acidly.
Turner had no response. There isn’t one. Women’s health is not a priority for Idaho — or for this court.
7. Supreme Court Showdown on Abortion Has Big Implications for State–Federal Relations, By John Bursch, National Review, April 24, 2024, 6:30 AM, Opinion
When the U.S. Supreme Court takes a case about abortion, you can bet it will be one of the year’s biggest decisions. But in the wake of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court’s abortion cases no longer address the egregiously mistaken Roe v. Wade decision. Instead, they address other doctrines concerning the state–federal relationship (such as administrative law and preemption). And while one such case the Supreme Court has accepted for review involves abortion — State of Idaho v. United States of America — its implications for that state–federal relationship stretch far more broadly.
The case concerns the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. Signed into law by President Reagan in 1986, EMTALA was enacted as part of the Medicare Act to prevent the then-common practice of “patient dumping” — hospitals turning away patients from emergency rooms.

Preposterously, the administration has somehow uncovered an abortion mandate in a law that protects “the unborn child” as a second patient. And its notion that EMTALA requires any specific procedure — let alone abortion — contradicts decades of judicial and agency interpretations. Indeed, the United States’ Medicare regulations have always limited care under EMTALA to what is allowed by physicians’ state-law licenses.

How the Supreme Court decides this case matters a great deal to the federal government’s power over the states. If it upholds the administration’s claim to be able to mandate abortions as stabilizing care, then emergency rooms suddenly become federal enclaves where only the federal government can say what procedures are required.
On the one hand, that is absurd. It makes little sense that federal control over state practice of medicine would exist in the ER and then evaporate 50 feet away if a patient is admitted to the hospital for treatment. That’s why no one understood EMTALA that way before now.
On the other hand, it is terrifying. If the federal government can override decisions on state medical policy on abortion in the ER, then it can do so on any subject. Will medical marijuana; assisted suicide; or dangerous, body-altering drugs for children struggling with gender dysphoria become federally mandated in the emergency room next?
The Biden administration’s radical position has even more problems because EMTALA was enacted under the Constitution’s Spending Clause — that is, the law has its force because hospitals agree to be bound by its conditions when they accept Medicare funding. Legislation under the Spending Clause is like a contract: You accept the money, and you accept the strings that come with it. But here, hospitals have accepted these federal dollars without the federal government ever having said anything about these “strings”; for 36 years, it never said that EMTALA required abortions that would be prohibited by state law.
Moreover, states such as Idaho — with pro-life laws — were not parties to this “contract” and didn’t take the money or agree to any of its strings. How can states lose their right to enforce their own laws because private hospitals agreed to take federal dollars? It would be a strange and dangerous world that would allow the federal government to pay people to break state law.
The Supreme Court is expected to hand down its decision by the end of its term in June. One can hope that the Court — which put on hold the lower court order during appeal and agreed to accept review without a single recorded dissent — will uphold the traditional authority of states over medical practice and reject the Biden administration’s novel manipulation of EMTALA.
JOHN BURSCH is senior counsel and vice president of appellate advocacy with ALLIANCE DEFENDING FREEDOM (@ADFLEGAL), which is assisting Idaho’s attorney general to defend its law. Bursch was solicitor general in the Michigan Attorney General’s Office from 2011 to 2013 and has argued twelve U.S. Supreme Court cases and litigated many more.
TCA Media Monitoring provides a snapshot from national newspapers and major Catholic press outlets of coverage regarding significant Catholic Church news and current issues with which the Catholic Church is traditionally or prominently engaged. The opinions and views expressed in the articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Catholic Association.
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