Idaho House passes Texas-style abortion ban
A Texas-style bill that seeks to ban abortions after six weeks and allow some people to sue abortion providers passed the Idaho House of Representatives on Monday.
The State House voted 51 to 14 to approve the legislation, after it passed the Senate earlier this month. The bill is now heading to the office of Gov. Brad Little (R).
If Little signs the bill, it will go into effect as early as April, long before the Supreme Court rules on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban in a case that could overturn or significantly weaken Roe vs. Wade.
Idaho’s legislation is modeled after a controversial Texas law that allows any private citizen to sue anyone who performs, aids or abets an abortion after fetal heart activity is detected, usually after six weeks. .
The US Supreme Court allowed the Texas law to stand and the state Supreme Court last week ruled against the final challenge of abortion providers in the state.
Idaho’s legislation builds on an existing fetal heartbeat law that makes it a crime for any provider to perform an abortion after a heartbeat is detected, punishable by up to five years in prison.
But that law is currently stalled because it contains a “trigger” provision that requires a court elsewhere in the country to uphold a similar law before it can go into effect.
Similar to the law in Texas, the law in Idaho would establish a cash reward for people who successfully file a lawsuit.
But the list of people who can sue and be sued is narrower than in Texas.. Idaho law can only be enforced by family members, including the fetus’s father and fetus’ siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. A rapist cannot prosecute, but the relatives of the rapist can.
If successful, the law allows them to collect $20,000 cash judgments — and their legal fees — from the abortion provider. Lawsuits can be filed up to four years after the date the abortion was performed.
Abortion advocates, including Planned Parenthood, have said the bill is unconstitutional and that it disproportionate impact on minorities and underserved communities.
They have promised legal challenges if Little signs the bill.
“It’s appalling that anyone can look at the chaos and damage in Texas over the past six months and think, ‘I want this for the people of my state. But today, anti-abortion politicians in Idaho have done 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 to fight for our patients and our communities. We are not done,” she added.