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Idaho Supreme Court puts restrictive abortion law on hold amid Planned Parenthood lawsuit

Idaho Statesman logo Idaho Statesman 4/9/2022 Nicole Blanchard, Idaho Statesman
A procedure room at Planned Parenthood in Meridian, one of the few clinics in Idaho that offer abortions. © Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman/TNS A procedure room at Planned Parenthood in Meridian, one of the few clinics in Idaho that offer abortions.

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Supreme Court on Friday put a stay on the state’s controversial new abortion law, set to go into effect later this month, pending a lawsuit filed last week by Planned Parenthood.

Idaho’s law, inspired by Texas legislation, would ban most abortions after about six weeks and allow certain family members to sue abortion providers for at least $20,000. Republican lawmakers argued that six weeks is when a so-called fetal heartbeat can be detected, though medical experts have said it’s better described as electrical activity. Physicians said most people do not know they’re pregnant by six weeks.

On Friday, the Idaho Supreme Court granted a motion filed by the state last week asking for more time to prepare its briefing, which was originally scheduled next week. The Supreme Court had previously approved a request from Planned Parenthood to expedite court proceedings in light of the 30-day timeline for the new law to be implemented after it was signed by Gov. Brad Little.

The state now has until April 28 to file its court documents. Planned Parenthood and the state both asked the court to preserve the state’s status quo — its current abortion laws — while the constitutionality of the new abortion law is decided.

“Patients across Idaho can breathe a sigh of relief tonight,” said Rebecca Gibron, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, in a news release. “We are thrilled that abortion will remain accessible in the state for now, but our fight to ensure that Idahoans can fully access their constitutionally protected rights is far from over.”

Little signed the law on March 23 despite expressing concerns over its constitutionality. Little said he worried the civil enforcement mechanism would be proven “unconstitutional and unwise.” In a legal opinion sent to Democratic Sen. Grant Burgoyne, who opposed the bill, Idaho Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane said the legislation likely was unconstitutional.

“The Governor’s Office does not comment on pending legislation,” said spokesperson Marissa Morrison in an email.

The legislation drew criticism from the White House, Vice President Kamala Harris, governors of Oregon and Washington, and abortion access advocates in Idaho.

(Idaho Statesman reporter Rachel Roberts contributed to this report.)

©2022 Idaho Statesman. Visit at idahostatesman.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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