Planned Parenthood sued Wednesday to block Idaho's six-week abortion ban after the state enacted legislation similar to a Texas law that prohibits the procedure before many people know they are pregnant.
In the petition, health care providers urged the state Supreme Court to block the policy from taking effect, calling it an "unprecedented power grab by the Idaho Legislature” that would wreak “havoc on this State’s constitutional norms and the lives of its citizens.”
The law bans abortion once cardiac activity is detected — usually around six weeks of pregnancy — except in cases of rape and incest. It also allows family members of fetuses to sue doctors for a minimum of $20,000 within four years of abortions. The bill, which was signed into law last week, is scheduled to take effect April 22.
"This law is a cruel overreach by politicians so intent on controlling the lives of their constituents that they're willing to compromise our constitutional rights and compromise our health and safety, all in order to ban abortion,” said Rebecca Gibron, the interim CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, the arm of Planned Parenthood that filed the suit.
Gibron said that the lawmakers who support the measure “sold their souls to an extremist minority" and that Planned Parenthood "will not allow them to take away our control over our own bodies,” adding, “We will go to every length to restore Idahoans’ right to abortion.”
But state representative Barbara Ehardt, a Republican, isn't backing down.
"We are finding ways to save lives. I believe that we are also saving many young women from a mistake that they end up regretting for the rest of their lives," she said.
Ehardt added, "Short of Roe v. Wade being overturned, which we are expecting to happen, this is something that we can look to to save babies."
Even though Republican Gov. Brad Little signed the bill, he had some reservations, writing that “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 said.
Republican legislators in several states have introduced measures modeled on the Texas law.
The Texas law has largely remained in effect since September, leading to a dramatic drop in abortions in the state. The Texas Supreme Court also ruled against abortion clinics early this month, essentially allowing the law to remain in place pending further legal challenges.
"Everyone deserves to make their own decisions about their bodies, families and lives — and we’re going to keep fighting to make sure that is a reality," said Alexis McGill Johnson, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.