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Idaho Supreme Court hears arguments on restrictive abortion ban

Supreme Court Idaho Planned Parenthood hearing October 2022
Darin Oswald/doswald@idahostatesman.com
Idaho Statesman
Megan Larrondo, deputy attorney general defending the State of Idaho, makes oral argument before the Idaho Supreme Court, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, regarding abortion related laws passed by the Idaho Legislature.

Attorneys debated abortion rights in front of the Idaho Supreme Court Thursday in the Planned Parenthood v. State of Idaho case.

Planned Parenthood is challenging three state laws. One that bans abortions except in the case of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is threatened, and another that criminalizes abortions after 6 weeks. The last one allows family members of a fetus to sue abortion providers.

Planned Parenthood attorney Alan Schoenfeld said preventing women from having abortions goes against the constitutional right to liberty and privacy.

"To think that it doesn't violate her right to autonomy or self-determination or bodily privacy or integrity, I think diminishes the right almost into nonexistence," he said.

Justice Gregory Moeller pushed back by saying the right to bodily autonomy seems incredibly amorphous to him.

Deputy Attorney General Megan Larrondo argued the state has an interest in protecting the rights of the fetus and the right to liberty requires boundaries.

"It has to be an ordered liberty," she said. "It has to be something that doesn't take a potential human life."

Larrondo also argued the drafters of the state constitution did not intend for abortions to be protected because terminating a pregnancy was criminalized when it was written in 1889.

"Even this court in 1901 described abortion as contrary to moral law and the laws of decency and criminal law, and it had grave consequences to society," she said.

Justice Colleen Zahn interjected: "Are you saying the right to liberty does not include the right to make decisions about my own body?" 

Larrondo answered the right to liberty stopped when the choices made on one's own body impacted a potential human life.

"Well," Justice Zahn said, "it seems if you're going to give an inalienable right of liberty, you give everything that comes along with it."

Both sides disagreed on whether the health of the mother trumped the life of the fetus.

The justices do not have a deadline to release their final decision.

As the Canyon County reporter, I cover the Latina/o/x communities and agricultural hub of the Treasure Valley. I’m super invested in local journalism and social equity, and very grateful to be working in Idaho.