BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho on Wednesday became the first state to enact a law banning abortion after nearly six weeks of pregnancy and allowing it to be enforced through lawsuits to avoid constitutional court challenges .
Republican Gov. Brad Little signed that measure into law, allowing people who would have been family members to sue a doctor who performs an abortion after detecting cardiac activity in a fetus. Still, he said he was concerned about whether the law was constitutional.
“I stand in solidarity with all Idahoans who seek to protect the lives of preborn children,” Little wrote in a letter to Lieutenant Governor Janice McGatchin, who is also the president of the Senate.
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Yet he also noted: “While I support the pro-life policy in this law, I fear the novel civil enforcement mechanism will prove to be both unconstitutional and unwise.”
The law in the conservative state is due to take effect 30 days after signing, but court challenges are expected. Opponents called it unconstitutional, and note that it is six weeks before many women find out they are pregnant.
Advanced technology can detect the first pulses of electrical activity within cells in embryos as early as six weeks. This pulsing is not a beating heart; It is the activity of the heart that will eventually become the heart. After the eighth week of pregnancy the embryo is called a fetus, and the actual heart begins to form between the ninth and 12th week of pregnancy.
The law allows fathers, grandparents, siblings, aunts, and uncles of a “preborn child” to sue an abortion provider for at least $20,000 in damages within four years after the abortion. Rapists cannot file a case under the law, but relatives of the rapist can.
“The cautionary aspect of this bill is absurd,” said Idaho Democratic Rep. Lauren Necchia. “Its effects are brutal, and it is clearly unconstitutional.”
A Planned Parenthood official called the law unconstitutional and said the group was “committed to going to great lengths and exploring all our options to restore Idahon’s right to abortion.”
“I want to emphasize to everyone in Idaho that our doors remain open. We are committed to helping our patients access the health care they need, including abortions,” said Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, and Kentucky Rebecca Gibron, who operates three abortion clinics in Idaho.
Supporters have said the law is Idaho’s best opportunity to severely restrict abortion in the state after years of trying. Most recently, the state passed a six-week abortion ban law last year, but it required a favorable federal court ruling in a similar case for it to take effect, and it didn’t.
The law is modeled after a Texas law that the US Supreme Court has allowed to remain in place until a court challenge is decided on its merits. Texas law allows people to enforce the law in place of state officials who usually do. Texas law authorizes lawsuits against clinics, doctors, and anyone who “aides or abets” an abortion that is not permitted by law.
Several other states are following similar laws, including Tennessee, which introduced a Texas-style abortion bill on Tuesday.
Republicans in Idaho have super-majorities in both the House and Senate. The measure passed the Senate 28-6 and the House 51-14 without any Democratic support. Three House Republicans voted against the measure.
On Wednesday Little noted his concerns with the law.
He wrote, “Employing private citizens to impose heavy monetary fines on the exercise of a partisan but judicially recognized constitutional right for the purpose of evading court review undermines our constitutional form of government and undermines our collective liberties.” weakens,” he wrote.
He said he worries that some states may use a similar approach to limit gun rights.
He also noted his concern with the part of the law allowing relatives of a rapist to sue.
“Ultimately, this law risks taking back victims by offering monetary incentives to perpetrators and family members of rapists,” he wrote.
He concluded the letter by encouraging lawmakers to fix those problems to avoid unintended consequences “to ensure that the state adequately protects the interests of victims of sexual assault.”
Little is facing the primary challenger in Lieutenant Governor McGatchin from the far-right, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Republican Representative Steven Harris, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement after the vote on March 14: “This bill ensures that the people of Idaho can stand up for our values and do everything in our power to prevent the destruction of the innocent.” can. human life.”
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