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Here's what you need to know about Idaho's abortion law after Roe v. Wade was overturned

On Friday, June 24 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned protections from the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade that ensured a pregnant woman's right to choose to have an abortion. This effectively returns abortion regulations over to individual states. So what changes in Idaho?

Anti-abortion protesters demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday, June 8, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Manuel Balce Ceneta
Anti-abortion protesters demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday, June 8, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Nearly all abortions in Idaho will be illegal

Idaho's trigger law from 2020 will go into effect on August 25, 2022, after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its final judgment in the case that overturned Roe v. Wade

Here are the main components of Idaho's trigger law:

  1. Abortions in Idaho are outlawed, except for cases of rape, incest and if the mother's life is at risk.
  2. In the instance of rape and incest, a woman would need to report the crime to police and provide a copy of the criminal report, which isn't publicly available during an ongoing investigation, to an abortion provider to undergo the procedure.
  3. Doctors performing illegal abortions would face two to five years in prison under the new law. Their state medical license would also be initially suspended for the first violation and revoked upon a second offense.

On Monday, June 27, a regional arm of Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against the state of Idaho to block its pending trigger law.

The abortion rights group said in court filings that the 2020 law violates the Idaho Constitution in several ways, including discriminating against women.

In a separate motion, Planned Parenthood asked the court to schedule oral arguments for Aug. 3, the same day the group is scheduled to argue against a 2022 Texas-style ban.

Most recent news stories:

Where can Idahoans get abortions now?

Prior to Idaho's abortion ban, the state had three clinics that provided abortions – all in the southern part of the state.

If those clinics no longer provide abortions, the closest provider for those who live in or near Boise is about 250 miles away in Walla Walla, Washington. That would make the total distance traveled for an abortion roughly 500 miles.

And that health center in Walla Walla only offers medication abortions – the two-pill combination of mifepristone and misoprostol that can be taken to end a pregnancy up to 11 weeks.

For in-clinic abortions performed by a doctor or nurse, the closest providers are in Kennewick, Washington or Bend, Oregon.

In April, States Newsroom reported a Planned Parenthood branch in Portland would open a new clinic in the border town of Ontario, Oregon, about 100 miles roundtrip from Boise.

Planned Parenthood consolidated its Boise and Meridian locations in June. The Idaho Statesman reported Katie Rodihan, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, said people can still visit the Meridian or Twin Falls location and that Planned Parenthood invested in telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How many Idahoans are getting abortions?

Of the roughly 353,000 women of reproductive age in Idaho, about 2,000 Idahoans had abortions in 2020 – either here or out of state – according to the most recent data available from state health officials.

The women most likely to seek an abortion were between the ages of 20-24, weren’t married and had never undergone the procedure before.

Eighty-five percent of them occurred prior to 10 weeks of pregnancy.

Is access to birth control at risk?

Emergency contraceptives are not the same as medication abortions.

Pills like Plan B or Ella prevent or delay one of the hormonal surges that trigger ovulation, or the release of eggs. They can prevent, but do not stop, pregnancies.

On the other hand, medication abortion involves two pills, the second of which causes the uterus to expel the pregnancy.

In May, Rep. Brent Crane (R-Nampa) said he would consider holding hearings regarding emergency contraception.

“Where the state of Idaho's policy is going to be regarding Plan B, I think, is a decision that we're going to have to wrestle with," he said.

Crane clarified on KTVB that he would not support holding hearings on legislation to ban IUDs, or intrauterine devices, a form of birth control.

“I believe a woman has the right with regards to contraceptive care and the choice of the contraceptives that they are going to use,” he said.

What about Idaho's Texas-style abortion ban?

On March 23, 2022, Gov. Brad Little signed a bill into law that would allow private citizens to sue doctors who perform abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they’re pregnant.

Idaho’s law differs slightly from the Texas statute, which allows anyone – regardless of whether they live in Texas or not – to sue a person who “aids or abets” an illegal abortion, like an Uber driver.

In Idaho, only family members of an aborted fetus could sue the doctor who performed the procedure after a fetal heartbeat could be detected. The minimum award would be $20,000.

That includes the family of someone who rapes a woman and impregnates her.

The implementation of this bill is on hold pending a lawsuit filed with the Idaho Supreme Court by Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky. Oral arguments are scheduled for Aug. 3.

How did we get here?

Idaho's abortion ban is new, but it didn't come out of nowhere. Idaho lawmakers have wanted to overturn Roe v. Wade for nearly 50 years.

Just two months after Roe was decided in 1973, Idaho legislators began trying to craft the state’s law to be “as restrictive as possible,” as described by Sen. Leon Swenson (R-Nampa) according to minutes from a Senate committee meeting.

And since 1990, Idaho legislators have enacted more than a dozen laws modifying its abortion statute.

What are your thoughts?

What are your thoughts on the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade? Do you have questions specifically about Idaho's abortion ban? We want to hear from you.

Some reactions from our audience after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

  • Leave us a voicemail in our Boise State Public Radio Radio app. You can download it for free right now from your app store. Then just open the app & click on the top box to record your thoughts.
  • Email your questions or reactions to the Boise State Public Radio newsroom: kbsxnewsroom@boisestate.edu.