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U.S. Supreme Court Justices Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — The Supreme Court conducted a hearing recently in a case to decide whether federal law governing hospital emergency rooms requires them to commit so-called “emergency” abortions in states where those abortions would otherwise be illegal. Much of the hearing focused on the legal principle that federal law overrides an inconsistent state law.

Unfortunately, all of the justices except for Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch pretty much ignored the obvious answer… a provision in the federal law requiring protection for the woman’s “unborn child.” Justice Alito noted that this reference to the “unborn child” imposes a duty not only to the pregnant woman but also to the baby, so there is no conflict between the federal law and the state protections for the unborn. The federal statute requires emergency rooms to care for two patients, mother and child.

According to Justice Alito, “the plain meaning is that the hospital must try to eliminate any immediate threat to the child, but performing an abortion is antithetical to that duty.”

Nor does the federal law limit its protection for unborn children to emergency rooms in pro-life states. Since federal law supersedes any state law, federal law protection for the “unborn child” should override any pro-abortion laws in pro-abortion states as well.

READ: Supreme Court hears arguments on whether Biden can force emergency rooms to commit abortions

An honest reading of the federal law would require hospital emergency rooms in pro-abortion states to protect the unborn child without regard to those states’ laws.

But the Court obviously did not want to ask or answer that question.

True, this case came from the state of Idaho, a relatively pro-life state, so the Court was limiting its inquiry to the effect of the federal law in a pro-life state. But let’s be honest, it was the Court’s choice to hear a case in that limited context on those limited terms. The Supreme Court can choose whatever cases it wants and ask whatever questions it wants to answer.

The Court’s decision is expected by summer and there is a reasonable chance of a limited ruling in favor of the state of Idaho. But will the Court’s so-called “conservative majority” ever get to the real issue of applying the federal law’s protections for unborn children to all of the states?

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David Bjornstrom is a retired California attorney and member of the U.S. Supreme Court bar. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice or an examination of the law or passing upon the legal effect of any act, document, or law.