Idaho became the first state on Wednesday to pass a law modeled after a Texas law prohibiting abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and allowing it to be enforced through lawsuits to avoid constitutional challenges.
Governor Brad Little, a Republican, signed legislation allowing people who would have been family members to sue a doctor who performs an abortion after cardiac activity is detected in an embryo. Nonetheless, he expressed reservations about the law’s constitutionality.
In a letter to Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who is also the Senate president, Little wrote, “I stand in solidarity with all Idahoans who seek to protect the lives of preborn babies.” “While I support the pro-life policy in this legislation, I fear the novel civil enforcement mechanism will be proven both unconstitutional and unwise in short order,” he added.
The conservative state’s law is set to take effect 30 days after it is signed, but it is expected to face legal challenges. Opponents say it’s unconstitutional, pointing out that many women don’t know they’re pregnant for six weeks.
As early as six weeks, advanced technology can detect the first flutter of electric activity within cells in an embryo. This flutter is cardiac activity that will eventually become a heart, not a beating heart. After the eighth week of pregnancy, an embryo is called a fetus, and between the ninth and 12th weeks of pregnancy, the heart begins to form.
The law allows a “preborn child’s” father, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles to sue an abortion provider for at least $20,000 in damages within four years of the abortion. Rapists are not allowed to sue under the law, but rapists’ relatives are.
Idaho Democratic Rep. Lauren Necochea said, “The vigilante aspect of this bill is absurd.” “It has cruel consequences and is clearly unconstitutional.”
The law, according to a Planned Parenthood official, is unconstitutional, and the organization is “committed to going to any length and exploring all our options to restore Idahoans’ right to abortion.”
“I’d like to remind everyone in Idaho that our doors are still open. We will continue to assist our patients in obtaining the health care they require, including abortion “Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, and Kentucky, which operates Idaho’s three abortion clinics, said Rebecca Gibron.
After years of trying, supporters say the law is Idaho’s best chance to severely restrict abortions in the state. Last year, the state passed a six-week abortion ban, but it didn’t take effect until a favorable federal court ruling in a similar case, which hasn’t happened yet.
The law is based on a Texas law that the United States Supreme Court has allowed to remain in effect until a legal challenge is resolved. The law in Texas allows citizens to enforce the law instead of state officials who would normally do so. The Texas law allows for lawsuits against clinics, doctors, and anyone else who “aides or abets” an illegal abortion.
Several other states are considering similar legislation, including Tennessee, which last week introduced a Texas-style abortion bill.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the Biden administration was aware that the Texas law would lead to similar legislation in other states, and she urged Congress to send the president a bill to “shut down these radical steps.”
In Idaho, Republicans hold supermajorities in both the House and Senate. With no Democratic support, the bill passed the Senate 28-6 and the House 51-14. Three Republicans in the House voted against the bill.
Little expressed his displeasure with the bill on Wednesday.
He wrote, “Deputizing private citizens to levy hefty monetary fines on the exercise of a disfavored but judicially recognized constitutional right in order to avoid court review undermines our constitutional form of government and weakens our collective liberties.”