April 11, 2022
The Idaho Supreme Court has temporarily blocked the enforcement of a new state law that would ban abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, typically after six weeks of pregnancy.
Gov. Brad Little signed the legislation in late March. It was scheduled to take effect April 22, but Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit in opposition.
The court acted Friday, saying it needs to review legal challenges to the law, The Associated Press reported. Both sides will be asked to file briefs.
The Idaho bill was modeled after a new abortion law in Texas that uses the six-week test. The Texas law also allows private citizens to enforce the law by suing health care workers who perform abortions.
The Idaho law says the father, grandparents, siblings, or other relatives of the fetus can sue, according to the Associated Press. Lawsuits could be filed up to four years after an abortion.
When he signed the bill, the governor expressed concerns about enforcement.
“While I support the pro-life policy in this legislation, I fear the novel civil enforcement mechanism will in short order be proven both unconstitutional and unwise,” Little wrote in a message to Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who is also president of the State Senate.
Planned Parenthood praised the Idaho Supreme Court’s decision.
“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,” Rebecca Gibron, interim chief executive of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, said in a statement, according to The New York Times. “Anti-abortion lawmakers have made clear that they will stop at nothing to control our lives, our bodies and our futures.”
It’s not clear how long the state Supreme Court will spend reviewing the new law.
The Idaho and Texas laws are part of a broad effort to thwart he U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which blocks states from banning abortions before a fetus is viable outside the womb around 23 weeks of pregnancy.