Idaho Supreme Court stops the state’s new anti-abortion law from taking effect

Idaho’s top court just handed pro-life advocates a loss.

Fox News reports that the Idaho Supreme Court has temporarily stopped the state’s latest anti-abortion law from taking effect. 

The law at issue is one modeled after the controversial Texas Heartbeat Act. Except in the cases of rape, incest, and medical emergencies, Idaho’s law bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which, normally, is around the six-week mark of the pregnancy.

Also like its Texas counterpart, Idaho’s version of the law has the same unique enforcement mechanism, wherein citizens, other than rapists, are allowed to sue abortion providers for a minimum of $20,000 up to four years after an abortion is performed.

The leadup to the lawsuit

Idaho’s senate, house, and governorship are all controlled by Republicans. And so, there was little trouble in getting the bill to become law.

The bill made it through the state house by a vote of 51–14, and it made it through the state senate by a vote of 28–6. Just last month, Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) signed the bill into law.

The law was scheduled to take effect later this month, on April 22. Now, things have been put on hold.

The lawsuit

Idaho physician Caitlin Gustafson and Planned Parenthood Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, and Kentucky have challenged the Idaho law on the grounds that it violates the state’s constitution in several different ways.

Several motions have been filed in the lawsuit. Among them is one from the state asking the Idaho Supreme Court to give it more time to prepare its legal brief. The court has granted this motion, which means that the state now has until April 28 to file its court documents.

During the interim, both the state and Planned Parenthood asked the court to maintain the status quo, meaning, to keep things as they were before the law was signed into effect. The court has agreed to do so.

Although this is only a temporary victory, it is a clear loss for pro-life, since abortions that would violate the new law can be performed without the legal consequences that the law imposes.

It is unclear how the Idaho Supreme Court will rule on the law itself when the time comes. The Texas version of the law, thus far, has survived legal challenges.

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