Abortion set to become illegal in Idaho as state Supreme Court rejects calls to suspend bans

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Idaho’s highest court has denied Planned Parenthood’s request to stay enforcement of abortion bans while legal battles unfold after finding there is no right to abortion under the state constitution.

(CN) – On August 25, in less than two weeks, nearly all abortions in Idaho will be banned after the state Supreme Court ruled late Friday night that it would not freeze laws while battles Judicial proceedings over the bans continue.

In a 3-2 decision, the court denied a request by a Planned Parenthood affiliate to suspend the bans passed by the Idaho legislature while they continue their legal fight. In their motion and arguments in court, Planned Parenthood said they had shown sufficient likelihood of irreparable harm that would harm Idaho residents if the bans were allowed to apply before their legality was decided. .

But the state’s highest court was unswayed, finding that in the new post-Deer landscape there is nothing in the Idaho Constitution that affirms a woman’s right to abortion.

“What the petitioners are asking this court to ultimately do is declare a right to abortion under the Idaho Constitution when – on the face of it – there is none. “, wrote judge Robin Brody for the majority.

The court also found that Planned Parenthood, despite their claims that abortion bans violate multiple civil liberties, have not shown that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their case when the bans will be fully reviewed later this year.

As well as allowing a near-total ban on abortions to come into effect at the end of the month – the only abortions allowed under the ban being in cases of rape, incest or to prevent the death of a pregnant woman – the court also lifted a stay issued in April that prevented a separate abortion ban from taking effect.

The ban allowed certain family members of terminated pregnancies to sue medical providers if they performed the abortion after six weeks, a deadline that has come under fire as many women don’t even know they’re pregnant at the time. With the suspension lifted, this ban is allowed to take effect immediately.

Alexis McGill Johnson, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said Friday’s decision resulted in the blatant stripping of key freedoms for Idaho residents who needed them, but noted that the fight to restore the right to abortion was not over.

“Tonight, the people of Idaho had their bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom taken away from them,” Johnson said in a press release. “Today’s court decision is horrific and cruel. But it’s not the end of the fight, and it’s not our last day in court. No one should have their life used as a pawn by their elected officials or their justice system. »

In a dissenting opinion, two of the Idaho Supreme Court justices said Friday’s ruling was flawed because it focuses on what the Idaho Constitution does and does not allow regarding abortion rights. , a decision the High Court has yet to make.

“The only argument of the state and the legislature that irreparable harm will not result is that the Idaho Constitution does not protect the right to abortion,” wrote Judge John Stegner, joined by Judge Colleen Zahn, in a dissent. “This argument fails because it is based on a decision that we have not yet made.”

With so many abortion bans in the air, the Idaho Supreme Court set the stage for how they would be decided in the future. The court rejected calls to refer the dispute to lower courts and consolidated all the different legal challenges into one case.

The court also added to the consolidation a third abortion ban that was not the subject of Friday’s ruling, but is sufficiently related to be settled with the other two. Under the third ban, abortions are banned following the detection of so-called ‘heart activity’ or a ‘fetal heartbeat’ – although experts have said what is detected is closer to electrical activity than anything else.

With the cases consolidated and bans gearing up to ban virtually all abortions in the state, advocates looking to continue the fight will have to wait until September 29, when oral arguments on the bans’ merits are expected to begin.

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