Idaho Top Court Allows Near-Total Abortion Ban to Take Effect

Idaho’s top court on Friday refused to stop a Republican-backed state law criminalizing nearly all abortions from taking effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade that had recognized a constitutional right to the procedure.

In a 3-2 ruling, the Idaho Supreme Court rejected a bid by a Planned Parenthood affiliate to prevent a ban from taking effect on Aug. 25 that the abortion provider argued would violate Idahoans’ privacy and equal protection rights under the state’s constitution. The measure allows for abortions only in cases of rape, incest or to prevent a pregnant woman’s death.

The court also lifted an earlier order that it issued in April blocking a separate Idaho law banning abortion after six weeks of pregnancy enforced through private lawsuits by citizens, allowing it to take effect immediately.

Justice Robyn Brody, writing for the court, said given the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision, Planned Parenthood was not entitled to the “drastic” relief it sought, noting that abortion was illegal in Idaho before the Roe decision.

“Moreover, what Petitioners are asking this Court to ultimately do is to declare a right to abortion under the Idaho Constitution when – on its face – there is none,” Brody added.

Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement called the ruling “horrific and cruel.”

Idaho state officials did not respond to requests for comment.

About half of the U.S. states have or are expected to seek to ban or curtail abortions following the conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized the procedure nationwide.

Those states include Idaho, which like 12 others adopted “trigger” laws banning abortion upon such a decision.

Louisiana’s top court earlier on Friday rejected an appeal by abortion rights supporters seeking to block a similar ban.

The Idaho court did not decide on the merits of Planned Parenthood’s challenge to the ban and instead said it would hear arguments on Sept. 29.

Justice John Stegner in a dissenting opinion said the court should have proceeded more cautiously and blocked the ban in the interim, saying that “never in our nation’s history has a fundamental right once granted to her citizens been revoked.”

The U.S. Justice Department on Aug. 2 separately sued in a bid to block the Idaho ban, saying it conflicts with a federal law requiring hospitals to provide abortion in medical emergencies if necessary. That lawsuit, to be argued on Aug. 22, was the first action by the federal government challenging state abortion laws after Roe was reversed.

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