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


On Friday, the Idaho Supreme Court temporarily blocked a Texas-inspired law that relies on ordinary citizens to enforce a ban on abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy to avoid challenges to its constitutionality.

The court order prevents the law, which would allow family members of what it calls “an unborn child” from suing the abortion provider, from taking effect until the court can clear it. examine further. The law was set to go into effect on April 22, a month after Governor Brad Little signed it.

Supporters of the Idaho bill said the new Texas strategy had been effective in preventing abortions. But abortion rights advocates argued in court that the law, SB 1309, is “an attempt to end an established precedent” and allow an unconstitutional ban to take effect.

Under Roe v. Wade, the United States Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion in 1973 states cannot ban abortion until a fetus is viable outside the womb, this which, with modern medical technology, is around 23 weeks pregnant. But the court’s six conservative justices seemed willing to abandon that ruling when they heard oral arguments in December about a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks.

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

The Idaho law, which aims to allow family members to sue abortion providers, sets a minimum compensation of $20,000 and legal fees. Lawsuits can be brought up to four years after an abortion.

Rep. Steven Harris, a co-sponsor of the bill at the Idaho House, has previously said the Texas law on which it was based was very effective. “It stopped physical abortions, chemical abortions in their tracks,” said Harris, who could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday’s decision.

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

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

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

“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, Acting Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii. Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, 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 future.”

The Idaho law is part of a show of confidence from 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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