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With Roe v. Wade overturned, Idaho's abortion ban is imminent

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.

Nearly all abortions in Idaho are poised to be outlawed after the U.S. Supreme Court Friday gave individual states the right to prohibit abortion.

In a widely expected 6-3 decision, justices overturned protections in the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade that ensured pregnant women had at least some access to abortion.

"It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives," wrote Justice Samuel Alito in the majority opinion.

The Idaho Attorney General's office said the law would likely take effect sometime in August. A spokesperson said the 30-day implementation clause in the legislation won't begin its countdown until the court's official opinion is published in about another month.

The Idaho Statesman first reported on the delay.

Doctors found violating Idaho's law would face between two and five years in prison under a felony charge. Their medical license would be suspended for six months after the first offense, and it would be permanently revoked for any following offenses.

Adopted in 2020, Idaho’s trigger law will only allow abortions in cases of rape, incest and if the mother’s life is at-risk.

But there are caveats to those exceptions.

Women who have been raped must show a doctor a police report proving they had notified authorities of the crime. However, advocates for sexual abuse survivors have said that essentially renders the exemption meaningless since police reports aren’t typically released during an ongoing investigation.

Gov. Brad Little signed the bill into law without much fanfare on March 24, 2020. But Little raised similar concerns in approving this year’s Texas-style abortion ban.

House Majority Caucus Chair Megan Blanksma (R-Hammett), one of the co-sponsors of that 2020 legislation,previously told Boise State Public Radio that additional laws may be needed to ensure those exceptions can be used.

In 1990, then-Gov. Cecil Andrus vetoed a bill to restrict abortions with similar provisions. Andrus said it would’ve “punitively and without compassion further harm” rape survivors seeking an abortion.

Little hailed the decision in a statement issued Friday morning.

"The decision provides clarity around landmark cases at the center of passionate debate in our country for nearly five decades. This is now clear – the ‘right’ to an abortion was a judicial creation," he wrote.

Little also said families, churches and governments must now come together to support girls and women with unwanted or unexpected pregnancies.

That includes offering adoption services, healthcare, financial and food assistance, counseling and treatment, and family planning.

"We are being called to support women and our fellow community members in extraordinary new ways, and I'm confident Idahoans are ready to meet this responsibility with love and compassion," Little said.

Idaho Democratic Party Chair Lauren Necochea characterized the decision of a "grave rollback" of citizens' constitutional rights.

"I am shocked that young Americans just lost rights that their parents were guaranteed and for which their grandparents fought," Necochea said.

She further warned that certain types of birth control and in vitro fertilization are under threat in Idaho by "extreme" legislative proposals put forth by Republican lawmakers in recent years.

The fate of another bill passed by state lawmakers this year is uncertain.Legislators attempted to enact a Texas-style abortion ban, but its implementation had been on-hold pending a lawsuit filed with the Idaho Supreme Court.

The legislation includes a clause clarifying the 2020 ban takes precedence. Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Aug. 3.

About 2,000 Idahoans got an abortion at one of the state’s three Planned Parenthood clinics or in another state in 2020,as Boise State Public Radio previously reported.

According to States Newsroom, a Planned Parenthood branch in Portland might open a new clinic just across the Idaho border in Ontario, Oregon. The city is about an hour’s drive west of Boise along I-84.

Should that clinic fall through, the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic for Treasure Valley residents is about 250 miles away in Walla Walla.

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.

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