Health Care

Idaho House passes Texas-style abortion ban

Supporters of legal abortion gather outside the US Supreme Court on the first day of their new term on Monday, October 4, 2021
UPI Photo

A Texas-style bill that aims to ban abortions after six weeks and allow certain individuals to sue abortion providers passed the Idaho House of Representatives on Monday.

The state House voted 51 to 14 to approve the legislation, following Senate passage earlier this month. The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Brad Little (R).

If Little signs the bill, it would take effect as early as April, well before the Supreme Court is expected to rule on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban in a case that could overturn or significantly weaken Roe v. Wade.

The Idaho legislation is modeled after a controversial law in Texas that allows any private citizen to file lawsuits against anyone who performs, aids or abets an abortion after fetal cardiac activity is detected, which is usually after six weeks.

The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed the Texas law to stand, and the state Supreme Court last week ruled against the final challenge from abortion providers in the state. 

The Idaho legislation builds on an existing fetal heartbeat law that makes it a felony for any provider to perform an abortion after a heartbeat is detected, punishable by up to five years in jail. 

But that law is currently stalled, as it contains a “trigger” provision that requires a court elsewhere in the country to uphold a similar law before it can take effect.

Similar to the Texas law, Idaho’s legislation would establish a cash reward for people who file a successful lawsuit. 

But the list of people who can sue and be sued is narrower than in Texas. The Idaho legislation can be enforced only by family members, including the father of the fetus and the fetus’s siblings, grandparents, and aunts and uncles. A rapist cannot sue, but relatives of the rapist can. 

If successful, the law allows them to collect cash judgments of $20,000 — and their legal fees — from the abortion provider. Lawsuits can be filed up to four years following the date the abortion was performed. 

Abortion advocates, including Planned Parenthood, said the bill is unconstitutional and will disproportionately impact minorities and underserved communities.

They vowed legal challenges if Little signs the bill.

“It is appalling that anyone could look at the chaos and harm in Texas over the past six months and think, ‘I want that for the people in my state. But today, anti-abortion politicians in Idaho did just that,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement.

“Make no mistake: Planned Parenthood will continue to provide care in Idaho, and we will continue fighting for our patients and communities. We’re not done,” she added.

Tags Abortion Idaho Planned Parenthood Roe v. Wade

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