The Supreme Court may be sidestepping a thorny abortion case, but the result appears will be that a lower court's pause on Idaho's near-total abortion ban will continue.

A Supreme Court clerk or employee messed up Wednesday morning and prematurely uploaded a decision in a case that apparently wasn't supposed to come out today. That decision was in Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States, a pair of cases pertaining to emergency abortions in Idaho. The very red state passed a near total ban on all abortion procedures in 2020, which included ban on emergency abortions to protect the health of a mother.

This was a so-called trigger law, titled the Defense of Life Act, and it passed with a provision that it would take effect if and when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade — which happened in June 2022.

The law makes exceptions for rape and incest, and to save the life of a mother, but there is no exception for protecting a mother's health if an when terminating a pregnancy would be part of the standard of care. NBC News gives the example of a pregnant woman whose water broke at 20 weeks, which would put her at risk of infection. That woman was airlifted out of Idaho earlier this year in order to receive hospital care in another state, because an abortion in that case would have violated the state law.

A lower court issued an injunction that protected doctors from prosecution in such cases, after the state was sued by the federal government, however the Supreme Court lifted that injunction in January pending the hearing of this case. Since then, multiple women have had to be flown out of state to receive emergency prenatal care.

The Supreme Court, while apparently not ruling on the merits of the case, appears poised to let that lower court's injunction stand, allowing emergency abortions to continue in Idaho, for now.

After the decision was briefly posted and removed from the Supreme Court website, the court issued a rote comment. "The Court’s Publications Unit inadvertently and briefly uploaded a document to the Court’s website,” spokesperson for the court Patricia McCabe said in a statement. "The Court’s opinion in Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States will be issued in due course."

Bloomberg Law caught the flub and published what the draft ruling said. It is not clear if the ruling was final, but it was quickly removed. A copy of the ruling is here, and it shows Justice Elena Kagan writing the majority opinion — which appears to be 6-3, with Alito, Thomas, and Gorsuch dissenting — dismissing the case as "improvidently granted." Such a dismissal occurs when circumstances surrounding a case change, or when the court learns new details that cause it to reconsider having taken it up — which Justice Katanji Brown Jackson calls out in a partial dissent as a copout in this case.

"This Court typically dismisses cases as improvidently granted when 'circumstances... which were not fully apprehended at the time certoriori was granted'," Justice Jackson writes. "This procedural mechanism should be reserved for that end — not turned into a tool for the Court to use to avoid issues that it does not wish to decide."

The case centers on the conflict between Idaho's abortion law and the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which was passed in 1986. That law was passed to prevent hospitals from refusing to provide emergency treatment to uninsured patients, and it was used in a novel way in the Idaho case to argue for a federal right to an emergency pregnancy termination.

Justice Jackson contends that "The importance of recognizing Congress's judgments in EMTALA remains as imperative as ever."

"Today’s decision is not a victory for pregnant patients in Idaho. It is delay," Jackson writes. "While this court dawdles and the country waits, pregnant people experiencing emergency medical conditions remain in a precarious position, as their doctors are kept in the dark about what the law requires."

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the dissent, according to the copy of the ruling, huffing that, "Apparently, the court has simply lost the will to decide the easy but emotional and highly politicized question that the case presents." He called the court's action "baffling," and "an about-face."

The Supreme Court, at least according to Alito, was supposed to be "getting out of the business" of abortion after the 2022 Dobbs decision, but like with so many staunch conservative viewpoints, there was little foresight there. Naturally, the overturning of Roe has led to a thicket of legal issues and unresolved questions, including about so-called medical abortion — abortion pills — about which the court also took up a case this term. The court ruled unanimously earlier this month that plaintiffs in that case lacked standing to block women's access to the drug mifepristone — another example of a side-stepping ruling that stops short of saying the pills should remain legal.

A number of major decisions are still set to be announced in the coming days, including on the question of Donald Trump's claim of total immunity from prosecution while serving as president. The court is also set to rule on a potentially very impactful case regarding homelessness and the ability of cities to enforce no-camping laws.

Top image: An abortion rights advocate participates in a protest outside of the U.S. Supreme Court Building on June 24, 2024 in Washington, DC. Abortion rights and anti-abortion rights activists demonstrated outside the U.S. Supreme Court to mark two years since the court's Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling, which reversed federal protections for access to abortions. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)