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Two years after the repeal of Roe v. Wade, Idaho's strict abortion ban still in legal limbo

People attend the March for Life rally on the National Mall in Washington, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. The March for Life, for decades an annual protest against abortion, arrives this year as the Supreme Court has indicated it will allow states to impose tighter restrictions on abortion with a ruling in the coming months.
Susan Walsh
/
AP
People attend the March for Life rally on the National Mall in Washington, Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. The March for Life, for decades an annual protest against abortion, arrives this year as the Supreme Court has indicated it will allow states to impose tighter restrictions on abortion with a ruling in the coming months.

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling on Idaho’s strict abortion ban, almost exactly two years after the repeal of Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022.

In April, the High Court heard arguments on whether or not Idaho’s abortion bans conflict with federal mandates requiring doctors to stabilize patients in an emergency, which can include by providing an abortions. Under state code, abortions are legal under limited exceptions, including if the life of the mother is in danger, but not if her health is jeopardized. The outcome of the case could consolidate the state’s anti-abortion policies or open them up to further litigation.

Hospitals, Medical Association and physicians have repeatedly denounced the bans as confusing to interpret and dangerous to women’s health. St Luke’s Healthcare system reported a sharp rise in patients being airlifted out of the state for emergency abortions. Attorney General Raúl Labrador accused physicians of inflating those numbers for political gain.

A study released by the Idaho Coalition for Safe Healthcare shows the state has lost 22% of its OBGYNs since the bans went into effect.

In 2023, only five abortions were reported to the Department of Health and Welfare, but out of state organizations say they’ve sent roughly 1,200 abortion pills by mail directly to women in Idaho for self managed at home terminations.

Under Idaho law, anyone who provides or assists in providing an abortion can face felony charges and five years in prison. Doctors can also lose their medical license. This, they say, has left them second guessing when to intervene in an emergency.

Politicians from both sides of the aisle disagree on the impact of these strict laws. Anti abortion advocates say no doctors have been prosecuted under the ban. In a press call last week, Democratic Party Chair Lauren Necochea called Idaho “a terrifying cautionary tale” for the rest of the nation’s reproductive landscape.

The last day for the U.S. Supreme Court to release its ruling for this year’s session is Wednesday.

I joined Boise State Public Radio in 2022 as the Canyon County reporter through Report for America, to report on the growing Latino community in Idaho. I am very invested in listening to people’s different perspectives and I am very grateful to those who are willing to share their stories with me. It’s a privilege and I do not take it for granted.

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