Idaho Supreme Court temporarily blocks new abortion law

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Supreme Court on Friday temporarily blocked a new state law that would ban abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy and allow the law to be enforced through lawsuits.

Last month, Idaho became the first state to pass legislation inspired by Texas law banning abortions after about six weeks. The Idaho high court’s decision in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood means the new law will not go into effect as scheduled on April 22.

The state Supreme Court has asked both parties to file further briefs while it considers the case before its final decision.

Republican Gov. Brad Little signed into law the measure last month that would have allowed people believed to be family members to sue doctors who perform abortions after heart activity is detected in embryos. But when he signed it, Little said he was concerned about whether the law was constitutional.

The law would allow the father, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles of an “unborn child” to each sue an abortion provider for a minimum of $20,000 in damages in four years following the abortion. Rapists cannot sue under the law, but relatives of a rapist can.

Planned Parenthood of the Greater Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana and Kentucky had called the law unconstitutional.

“We are thrilled that abortion will remain accessible in the state at this time, but our fight to ensure that Idahoans can fully access their constitutionally protected rights is far from over,” said Rebecca Gibron, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana and Kentucky, said in a statement after Friday’s lawsuit.

The decision comes amid a nationwide struggle over access to abortion. The conservative majority of the United States Supreme Court has signaled its willingness in a Mississippi case to seriously erode or even overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide until a baby could survive outside the womb. Many Republican-majority states are prepared to follow the stricter interpretation of the ruling.

If Roe is overturned, 26 states are certain or likely to quickly ban abortion, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank that supports abortion rights.

The Idaho law is modeled after a Texas law that the US Supreme Court has allowed to remain in place until a legal challenge is decided on the merits. Texas law allows people to enforce the law instead of state officials who normally would. Texas law allows lawsuits against clinics, doctors and anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion that is not permitted by law.

Supporters had said the law was Idaho’s best opportunity to severely restrict abortions in the state after years of trying.

When he signed the bill into law, the governor of Idaho voiced his concerns about the legislation.

“Delegating private citizens to levy large monetary fines for the exercise of a disadvantaged but judicially recognized constitutional right in an effort to evade judicial review undermines our constitutional form of government and weakens our collective freedoms,” he said. writes Little.

He said he was concerned that some states would use the same approach to limit gun rights.

The attorney general’s office, representing the state, had said the case should start in the state’s district courts, and then work its way up to the high court.

Planned Parenthood’s attorneys balked.

“In the state’s apparent view, the more unconstitutional the law, the less appropriate it is for extraordinary relief. This sets things back: the state should not be able to escape review by this Court by violating multiple provisions of the Idaho Constitution instead of just one. »