Idaho’s Republican governor signed a bill into law on Tuesday banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
Governor Brad Little signed the Fetal Heartbeat Preborn Child Protection Act, which prohibits medical providers from performing abortion procedures after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is around four to six weeks of pregnancy. A woman who received an abortion would be allowed to sue the medical provider who performed it.
The only exceptions to the ban are abortions in cases of rape, incest, or medical emergencies, and a woman seeking an abortion for rape or incest must provide the abortion doctor with a copy of a police report.
“Idaho is a state that values the most innocent of all lives – the lives of babies. We should never relent in our efforts to protect the lives of the preborn,” Little said Tuesday in a statement.
“Hundreds and hundreds of babies lose their lives every year in Idaho due to abortion, an absolute tragedy. I appreciate Idaho lawmakers for continuing to protect lives by passing this important legislation, and I am proud to sign the bill into law today,” the governor said.
A doctor who performs an abortion outside of the law’s restrictions commits a felony and can be imprisoned for two to five years and risks having their medical licenses suspended.
The Idaho state House and Senate passed the bill days apart from each other earlier this month.
Family Policy Alliance of Idaho applauded the governor for signing the law, saying it will save “thousands of precious lives.”
“We are proud that Idaho can be added to the list of pro-life states leading the charge in offering legal protection for our youngest and most defenseless residents,” the pro-life group said.
“Thanks to modern medical technology, every new parent now knows the excitement of first hearing their son or daughter’s heartbeat during early prenatal check-ups. … Preborn babies with beating hearts deserve the same constitutional right to life accorded to any other living person.”
The bill includes a “trigger provision,” meaning it would only take effect if a similar state ban is upheld in one of the country’s federal appeals courts. “Heartbeat bills” have not fared particularly well in federal court; several similar bills in other states were struck down last year.
“Let’s be clear: Nothing changes today or in the future. Abortion is still legal in Idaho,” Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates – West, which serves Idaho, wrote in a tweet.
Idaho’s new abortion law is the latest in a string of so-called “heartbeat bills” that Republican-led state legislatures have passed, although many have been met swiftly with legal challenges from abortion groups.
A day earlier, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, also a Republican, signed a similar piece of legislation barring abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That bill includes exceptions for abortions in cases where there is serious physical risk to the mother but does not make exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
“I’m keeping my promise to sign all pro-life legislation,” Stitt wrote in a tweet.
Stitt also signed two other abortion-related laws, one requiring abortion providers to be board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology, and another that effectively bans all abortions outside of medical emergencies by threatening medical providers with loss of their medical licenses for a year or more if they perform an abortion.