Idaho Supreme Court Temporarily Halts Abortion Ban
Pro-life demonstrators (R) confront pro-choice counterparts (L) 23 January 2006 in Washington, DC, as tens of thousands of pro-life and pro-choice opponents rally marking the 33rd anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling on abortion.
KAREN BLEIER/AFP via Getty Images

The Idaho State Supreme Court temporarily halted a bill banning abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy, pending further review.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice G. Richard Bevan issued a temporary stay of Idaho Senate Bill 1309 amidst a legal challenge from Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky. The law was passed and signed by Idaho Governor Brad Little in March, and was expected to go into effect on April 22.

Planned Parenthood filed a suit challenging the law last week, and asked for the suit to be tried on an expedited basis considering that the law would have taken effect in a matter of weeks, according to the Idaho Statesman. But on Friday, lawyers for the state of Idaho filed a motion to give them more time to prepare their legal brief. Justice Bevan granted the motion, which gave the state until April 28 to file its legal brief in answer to Planned Parenthood’s challenge. Planned Parenthood will then have 14 days to file a reply. In order to adequately brief the case, both parties asked the court to maintain the status quo ante — Idaho’s current abortion laws. The judge granted the request, and therefore stayed the law while the case is pending.

“Patients across Idaho can breathe a sigh of relief tonight,” Rebecca Gibron, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, said in a statement after the decision. “We are thrilled that abortion will remain accessible in the state for now, but our fight to ensure that Idahoans can fully access their constitutionally protected rights is far from over. Anti-abortion lawmakers have made clear that they will stop at nothing to control our lives, our bodies, and our futures. Planned Parenthood will continue fighting for every person’s ability to access basic health care, no matter their race, zip code, or economic status. We look forward to our day in court.”

Little’s office refused to comment. “The Governor’s Office does not comment on pending legislation,” Little spokesperson Marissa Morrison told the Idaho Statesman in an email.

The Idaho State legislature passed SB 1309, known as the “Fetal Heartbeat, Preborn Child Protection Act,” overwhelmingly in March, as The Daily Wire reported. The bill passed the state Senate 28-6, and subsequently passed the state House of Representatives 51-14. The law was inspired by Texas’ abortion law, which was signed into law in May of last year. The law allows private citizens to sue abortion providers for violating the law, rather than the state enforcing it. A similar bill was introduced in Tennessee.

Idaho Governor Brad Little signed the bill into law in late March, but expressed concern with it. “I stand in solidarity with all Idahoans who seek to protect the lives of preborn babies. That is why I signed into law last year the Fetal Heartbeat Preborn Child Protection Act, the very act this legislation now seeks to amend,” Little wrote in a letter to Lieutenant Governor and state Senate president Janice McGeachin. “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. 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.

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