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Idaho Supreme Court temporarily blocks state’s new 6-week abortion ban


On Friday, the Idaho Supreme Court temporarily blocked the state’s new six-week abortion ban, which mimics a controversial Texas law.

Abortion providers had said in a lawsuit filed last week that the Idaho law violated several provisions of the state constitution and asked the state Supreme Court to intervene by April 22, date on which the law was to come into force.

On Friday, the court granted a motion for reconsideration and said “implementation of Senate Bill 1309 is suspended pending further action by the Court.”

Last month, Idaho became the first state to follow Texas’ controversial law that allows private citizens to enforce abortion restrictions through lawsuits.

Like Texas law, Idaho’s measure prohibits abortions after fetal heart activity is detected — a point about six weeks into pregnancy, when many women are still unaware that they are pregnant.

Like Texas, Idaho law leaves enforcement to private citizens, who can sue medical professionals who performed prohibited procedures. Specifically, Idaho law states that the father of the fetus, as well as his or the woman’s family, can sue for damages of at least $20,000. It provides exceptions for cases of rape and incest – provided the abortion seeker reports the crime to law enforcement and provides documentation of this report to the abortion clinic – and in cases of “medical emergency”.

Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, and Idaho physician Caitlin Gustafson are filing the lawsuit. They allege the six-week ban violates the Idaho Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine, its prohibition on “special” laws, its right to privacy, its due process guarantees, and its Equal Protection Clause. .

“Patients in Idaho can breathe a sigh of relief tonight,” Rebecca Gibron, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood Group, said in a statement.

“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 Gibron.

The challengers pointed to assessments by the Idaho Attorney General’s Office and Republican Idaho Gov. Brad Little, which suggested the law was likely to be found unconstitutional.

Even when he signed the bill last week, Little raised concerns that “the new civil enforcement mechanism will soon be proven both unconstitutional and reckless.”

“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. Little said in a statement accompanying the signing.

CNN has reached out to the governor’s office for comment.

The Idaho providers are focusing their fight on the state Supreme Court after efforts to block the Texas version, which went into effect in September, failed in federal courts. The United States Supreme Court has repeatedly denied requests to stop the Texas law.

Abortion patients in Texas are now seeking treatment at out-of-state clinics and the impact would be similar in Idaho, legal challengers have warned, if the state law were to go into effect.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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