Idaho Supreme Court upholds 6-week abortion ban based on Texas law

Idaho Supreme Court upholds 6-week abortion ban based on Texas law

The Idaho Supreme Court on Friday temporarily blocked a Texas-inspired law that relies on ordinary citizens to enforce a ban on abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy as a way to sidestep challenges to its constitutionality.

The court order prevents the law, which would allow relatives of what it calls “an unborn child” to sue the abortion provider, from going into effect until the court can review it further. The law was scheduled to go into effect on April 22, a month after Gov. Brad Little signed it.

Supporters of the Idaho bill have said that Texas’ novel approach has been effective in preventing abortions. But abortion rights advocates have argued in court that the law, SB 1309it is “an attempt to end an established precedent” and allow an unconstitutional ban to go into effect.

Under Roe v. Wade, the US Supreme Court decision that established the constitutional right to abortion in 1973, states cannot prohibit abortion before the fetus is viable outside the womb, which with modern medical technology is about 23 weeks pregnant. But the six conservative justices of the court seemed ready to abandon that decision when they heard oral arguments in December on a mississippi law which prohibits most abortions after 15 weeks.

The court also refused to stop the Texas law, which allows any civilian to sue someone who “aides or abets” a woman to have an abortion after fetal heart activity is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy.

Idaho law, which focuses on allowing family members to sue abortion providers, sets a minimum award of $20,000 and legal fees. Lawsuits can be filed up to four years after an abortion.

Rep. Steven Harris, a co-sponsor of the bill in the Idaho House of Representatives, previously said that the Texas law on which it was based was highly effective. “It stopped physical abortions and dry chemical abortions,” said Harris, who couldn’t be immediately reached for comment on Friday’s decision.

When Mr. Little signed the Idaho bill into law after the House overwhelmingly approved it, he raised concerns about the wisdom and constitutionality of the measure and warned that it could re-traumatize victims of sexual assault. Little, a moderate Republican, said the law could conflict with Roe.

“While I support the pro-life policy in this legislation, I fear that the novel civil enforcement mechanism will soon be proven both unconstitutional and unwise,” Little wrote at the time in a message to Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who is also chair. of the state Senate.

Planned Parenthood, which filed the petition to block the abortion ban, welcomed the stay from the Idaho Supreme Court on Friday, which was signed by Chief Justice G. Richard Bevan.

“We are delighted that abortion remains accessible in the state for now, but our fight to ensure Idahoans can fully access their constitutionally protected rights is far from over,” Rebecca Gibron, interim executive director of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, it said in a statement. “Anti-abortion lawmakers have made it clear that they will stop at nothing to control our lives, our bodies, and our futures.”

The Idaho law is part of a show of confidence by anti-abortion activists and lawmakers across the country, with both sides of the debate anticipating that the Supreme Court could soon reduce or overturn Roe.

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