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Idaho Supreme Court Authorizes Abortion Ban

The law allows family members of aborted children to sue for $20,000

A ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy is officially set to take effect this month.

Planned Parenthood and a physician challenged the ban in court after it was signed into law in March by Governor Brad Little, prior to the overturning of Roe v.Wade.

The state’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of the law on Aug.12. The ban criminalizes almost all abortions after a heartbeat is detected. The law includes exceptions if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. Abortions are also permitted to save the life of the mother.

“Every licensed health care professional who knowingly or recklessly performs or induces an abortion in violation of this chapter commits the crime of criminal abortion,” reads Senate Bill 1309 states. The crime is punishable with two to five years in prison. First-time offenders will lose their license for six months and will permanently lose their license if they repeat the offense.

Once in effect, the law will permit relatives of a terminated fetus to sue the abortion provider for up to $20,000 within four years of abortion. Men who father a pregnancy that is terminated due to rape or incest cannot seek damages.

“What Petitioners are asking this court to ultimately do is to declare a right to abortion under the Idaho Constitution when – on its face – there is none,” Justice Robin Brody wrote for the majority, per Fox News.

The court found Planned Parenthood and the doctor failed to prove the ban and the two other anti-abortion laws they challenged would cause “irreparable harm” when enforced. The justices also said there was insufficient evidence that the plaintiffs have a “clear right” to a remedy.

Justice John Stegner, who wrote a partial dissent, objected in part to the defense mounted by Idaho.

“The State and the Legislature’s only argument that irreparable harm will not result is that the Idaho Constitution does not protect the right to an abortion,” Stegner wrote. “This argument fails because it is premised on a decision we have not yet made.”

On Aug. 2, the Biden administration filed a lawsuit against Idaho’s abortion law for conflicting with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which guarantees patient access to emergency medical care at hospitals that accept Medicare funding. The Department of Justice argues that “state law cannot prohibit the provision of that care” when a doctor has “reasonably” determined “that the necessary stabilizing treatment is an abortion.”

“One critical focus of the Reproductive Rights Task Force has been assessing the fast-changing landscape of state laws and evaluating potential legal responses to infringements on federal protections,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta in a statement. “Today’s lawsuit against the State of Idaho for its near-absolute abortion ban is the first public example of this work in action. We know that these are frightening and uncertain times for pregnant women and their providers, and the Justice Department, through the Task Force’s work, is committed to doing everything we can to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”

A hearing for the federal lawsuit is scheduled for Aug. 22.

Bans on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy are currently in effect in Texas, Tennessee, Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Iowa, and South Carolina. Abortion bans are also in effect in South Dakota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Alabama, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.

In addition to Idaho, legislation banning abortion is currently being challenged in court in Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, North Dakota, Michigan, and Indiana.

Abortion is currently legal in 28 states.

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