Supreme Court Accidentally Posts Opinion on Abortion Case Online Before Swiftly Deleting It

By: Julia Mehalko | Published: Jun 27, 2024

An opinion on an Idaho abortion case was momentarily posted on the Supreme Court’s website on Wednesday before it was swiftly taken down.

According to this document, the court seems poised to take action and allow doctors in Idaho to perform emergency abortions on pregnant patients whose lives are at serious risk.

Idaho’s Strict Abortion Laws

Idaho has some of the strictest abortion laws in the entire United States, as abortion is completely banned in almost all cases, save some exceptions.

The Idaho State Capitol building seen behind green grass in the daytime.

Source: Indies1/Wikimedia Commons

The state was also one of the first to enact these abortion bans ever since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, which allowed states to once again decide whether they would allow abortion to be legal in their regions or not.


Doctors Ask for Help in Idaho

Since Idaho enacted these strict laws, many doctors throughout the state have been wary about performing any abortions, even though it’s technically legal for them to perform one if the mother’s life is at risk.

A doctor typing on a laptop next to a stethoscope.

Source: National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

However, doctors who illegally perform abortions can face up to two years in prison if convicted. Many medical professionals have worried that, even if they are saving the mother’s life, the state will still press charges.

Deciding When to Act

Idaho’s abortion laws allow doctors to conduct an abortion if they are trying to save a mother’s life. However, many doctors and medical professionals have stated that there are no guidelines on when, exactly, this becomes legal.

A close-up of a doctor on a phone while wearing a white lab coat.

Source: National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

As a result, they’ve struggled to know when to act — or when to realize a woman’s life is in danger enough to finally perform an abortion. Therefore, this case eventually ended up at the Supreme Court.

The Leaked Document Decision

According to these accidentally posted opinion documents, the Supreme Court will seemingly decide to reinstate a lower court’s order that allows hospitals to perform emergency abortions when seeking to protect a pregnant woman’s overall health.

The U.S. Supreme Court building seen underneath a cloudy blue sky.

Source: Claire Anderson/Unsplash

This 6-3 vote would better help doctors legally perform these life-saving medical procedures.

A 6-3 Vote

These leaked documents also show that conservative Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch all dissented from the opinion.

An official photo of the Supreme Court Justices in 2022.

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Meanwhile, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote in a concurrence about how this case doesn’t fully resolve many issues in Idaho — and around the country.


Not a Victory

In her concurrence, Jackson explained that, while this decision may help, it doesn’t solve anything — and it’s not a victory for those pregnant in Idaho.

Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson speaking into a microphone.

Source: Wikicago/Wikimedia Commons

She wrote, “Today’s decision is not a victory for pregnant patients in Idaho. It is delay.”


The Rest of the U.S.

Many analysts have already pointed out that this accidentally posted Supreme Court decision may give some aid to doctors and pregnant patients in Idaho — but it doesn’t apply to the rest of the country.

A close-up of a red, white, and blue American flag.

Source: Cristina Glebova/Unsplash

So, even though abortions in life-threatening situations will be allowed in Idaho, other states still have stringent laws that make this almost, if not completely, impossible.


The Biden Administration vs Idaho

This case first began when President Joe Biden’s administration sued Idaho, saying that their abortion ban conflicted with the federal healthcare law that allows doctors to perform abortions if they need to stabilize pregnant patients.

An exterior view of the White House.

Source: René DeAnda/Unsplash

These procedures are supposed to be done when a patient’s health is at serious risk.


Idaho’s Argument

In response, Idaho argued that their abortion ban does allow these types of abortions if the patient’s life is fully at risk. They’ve accused the Biden administration of misreading the law, all so they could expand abortion access within the state.

A close-up of the Idaho State Capitol.

Source: Lordchadwick79/Wikimedia Commons

However, doctors in Idaho have come out against the state, explaining that the strict law has hindered their efforts to care for patients.


Dangerous Reports

This decision coincides with new reporting that has confirmed a spike in pregnant patients being turned away from various emergency rooms throughout the United States after the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

A close-up of a patient in a hospital bed with IVs.

Source: Stephen Andrews/Unsplash

As doctors don’t want to face criminal repercussions, they’ve begun to refuse to perform abortions. This has also led to many women in states like Idaho having to be airlifted to another state so that a life-saving abortion could be performed.


The Supreme Court in an Election Year

Some analysts have theorized that the Supreme Court would be wary about making any major decision on abortion during an election year. However, this leaked document appears to suggest they’ll make this decision, regardless.

A roll of many voting stickers on a white surface.

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This leaked opinion comes after a new poll has found that 7 in 10 U.S. adults believe access to abortions for pregnant patients who are experiencing medical emergencies or miscarriages should be protected.