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Idaho Governor Signs Texas-Style Legislation that Bans Abortions After Six Weeks of Pregnancy

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Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) on Wednesday signed a bill that outlaws abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

The legislation was modeled after the Texas “heartbeat” abortion law.

ABC 4 reported:

Idaho on Wednesday became the first state to enact a law modeled after a Texas statute banning abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy and allowing it to be enforced through civil lawsuits to avoid constitutional court challenges.

Republican Gov. Brad Little signed into law the measure that allows people who would have been family members to sue a doctor who performs an abortion after cardiac activity is detected in an embryo.

“I stand in solidarity with all Idahoans who seek to protect the lives of preborn babies,” Little wrote in a letter to Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who is also president of the Senate.

The law in the conservative state is scheduled to take effect 30 days after the signing. But court challenges are expected.

Republican Rep. Steven Harris, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement after the vote on Monday, March 14: “This bill makes sure that the people of Idaho can stand up for our values and do everything in our power to prevent the wanton destruction of innocent human life.”

NPR added:

Shaakirrah Sanders, a law professor at the University of Idaho, says that provision could provoke lawsuits that would quickly make it impossible for healthcare providers to continue offering the procedure.

“If there are 10 siblings and parents, all of those people can sue you, and they can all get $20,000,” Sanders says. “You can see how one lawsuit could pretty much wipe out an entire clinic.”

Unlike the Texas law, Idaho’s ban allows abortions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest — if the assault is reported to law enforcement. According to the anti-sexual violence group known as RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), more than two-thirds of victims do not report their assaults for a variety of reasons, including fear of retaliation or a belief that police would not help them if they did.

SB 1309 specifies that anyone who causes a pregnancy by committing rape or incest is not eligible to sue, though it’s silent on how that person’s guilt would be proven. And it includes no such exclusion for a rapist’s family members.

Several other states are pursuing similar laws, including Tennessee, which introduced a Texas-style abortion bill on Tuesday.

 

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