The Idaho Supreme Court on Friday temporarily blocked a new state law that would ban abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy and allow the law to be enforced through lawsuits.
Idaho last month had become the first state to enact legislation modeled after the Texas statute banning abortions after about six weeks. The ruling from Idaho’s high court in a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood means the new law won’t go into effect as planned on April 22.
Republican Gov. Brad Little signed into law the measure that would’ve allowed people who would have been family members to sue doctors who perform abortions after cardiac activity is detected in embryos. But when he signed it, Little said he had concerns about whether the law was constitutional.
The law would allow the father, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles of a “preborn child” to each sue an abortion provider for a minimum of $20,000 in damages within four years after the abortion. Rapists can’t file a lawsuit under the law, but a rapist’s relatives could.
Planned Parenthood of Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana and Kentucky had called the law unconstitutional.
The law was modeled after a Texas law that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed to remain in place until a court challenge is decided on its merits. The Texas law allows people to enforce the law in place of state officials who normally would do so. The Texas law authorizes lawsuits against clinics, doctors and anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion that is not permitted by law.
When he signed the bill, Idaho’s governor noted his concerns with the legislation.
“Deputizing private citizens to levy hefty monetary fines on the exercise of a disfavored but judicially recognized constitutional right for the purpose of evading court review undermines our constitutional form of government and weakens our collective liberties,” Little wrote.
He said that he worried some states might use the same approach to limit gun rights.
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