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Planned Parenthood sues to block Idaho's pending abortion ban

Idaho abortion rally
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
Hundreds of pro-abortion rights advocates rallied in front of the Idaho Capitol Saturday May 14, 2022. They were protesting a leaked opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that's poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed a constitutional right to the procedure.

A regional arm of Planned Parenthood is suing the state of Idaho to block a law banning most abortions that would take effect later this summer.

Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, which operates two clinics in Idaho, filed the case Monday afternoon with the Idaho Supreme Court. In a separate motion, the group asked the court to schedule oral arguments for Aug. 3 — the same day it's set to argue against a Texas-style abortion ban signed into law earlier this year.

Idaho lawmakers in 2020 passed legislation that would only allow abortions in cases of rape, incest or if the life of the mother were in jeopardy. It would take effect only if the U.S. Supreme Court reversed its landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.

That move came Friday when the court overturned Roe, once again allowing states to regulate abortions as they see fit.

The abortion rights group said in court filings that the 2020 law violates the Idaho Constitution in several ways.

It cites the very first section, which states “All men are by nature free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights…” Planned Parenthood argues that broadly includes a right to privacy in “making intimate familial decisions.”

Parts of the law, it said, are also unconstitutionally vague in describing when an abortion is legal to perform, which includes an exception for when a pregnancy threatens the life of a mother.

The law does not define whether doctors can perform the procedure if the risk to a mother’s life is “substantial” or if it must be “imminent.”

Finally, Planned Parenthood said the law discriminates against women by violating the equal protection clause of the state’s constitution.

“...it forces women to endure the burdens and risks of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting based on outdated stereotypes about their societal role” when there are no equivalent restrictions placed on men.

A spokesperson for the Idaho Attorney General’s Office declined to comment. Gov. Brad Little's press secretary said his office was reviewing the case.

The law also carves out two other exceptions, though it’s unclear how realistic they are, according to sexual assault advocates.

Survivors of rape and incest would have to report the crime to law enforcement and give their doctor a copy of the report before they could undergo the procedure.

Advocates argue those requirements essentially render the exceptions meaningless, since police don’t release those reports while investigations are active and ongoing.

The Idaho Attorney General’s office said Friday it expects the state’s trigger law to take effect sometime in August.

Anti-abortion advocates cheered last week’s high court ruling after nearly 50 years of trying to abolish the procedure in the United States.

But according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHouse/Marist poll, 56% of Americans said they opposed the court’s decision compared to 40% of those who supported it.

Hundreds of people railed against the court’s opinion at a rally in Boise Saturday. Other abortion rights demonstrations have been held in the capital city since Friday.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!

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