The health care provider’s petition asks the Idaho Supreme Court to block the state law banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, which is before many people even know they’re pregnant, before it goes into effect on April 22.
“This law is a cruel overreach by politicians so intent on controlling the lives of their constituents that they’re willing to compromise our constitutional rights and compromise our health and safety, all in order to ban abortion,” said Rebecca Gibron, the interim CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, which filed Wednesday’s lawsuit.
Like the Texas ban that went into effect last year, Idaho’s law contains an unusual legal loophole making court challenges an uphill battle for abortion rights groups. Instead of tasking the state with enforcing the ban, the law deputizes would-be family members of the fetus to do so. It offers a $20,000 financial incentive if an individual successfully sues a person for “aiding and abetting” someone in need of an abortion ― double the bounty offered in Texas.
“It should be clear to everyone that the Idaho state legislature intentionally abandoned the ordinary rule of law when they passed this six-week abortion ban,” Planned Parenthood CEO and President Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement Wednesday. “Then the governor joined their effort to deny his constituents their constitutional rights when he signed the abortion ban into law — despite his own acknowledgment that it was wrong.”
When Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) signed the bill into law last week, he conceded that it may violate the Constitution.
“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,” he wrote to Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin (R), who also serves as the president of the Idaho Senate.
But so far, the similar law in Texas has managed to hang on in the face of multiple legal challenges. Earlier this month, the Texas Supreme Court dealt abortion providers a major blow when it ruled that state officials cannot be held responsible for enforcing the state’s six-week abortion ban and therefore cannot be sued over the law.
Idaho was the first state to pass a copycat of the Texas law ― something abortion providers warned was bound to happen in multiple red states after the Texas ban proved successful at evading lawsuits.
“Texas lawmakers found the loophole that could make dismantling Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion a reality,” Ashley Coffield, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Tennessee and North Mississippi, told HuffPost last year.