Idaho Supreme Court sets hearing in abortion case for August

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Supreme Court will hear arguments in a lawsuit over the state’s newest anti-abortion law in August — but probably after the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling that could overturn the right to legalized abortion nationwide.

The Idaho Supreme Court announced Wednesday that it would hear arguments on Aug. 3 in the lawsuit brought by a regional Planned Parenthood organization against Idaho’s new law banning abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. That’s before most people know they are pregnant.

The law seeks to halt access to abortions while avoiding constitutional court challenges by allowing potential relatives of the fetuses or embryos to sue abortion providers for at least $20,000 in damages within four years of an abortion. The law prohibits rapists from filing such lawsuits, but rapists’ relatives could.

In its lawsuit, the group contends the Idaho law is unconstitutional because it violates a individuals’ right to privacy and its enforcement mechanism violates the constitutional separation of powers.

The U.S. Supreme Court is likely to issue a ruling in a separate case in June or July that is expected to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, another Idaho anti-abortion law enacted in 2020 will go into effect.

That “trigger” law makes it a felony to perform abortions or attempt to perform abortions, unless they are done to save a patients’ lives or in cases where the pregnancies were the result of rape or incest reported to law enforcement.

In cases of rape or incest, patients must provide a copy of the police report to the physician performing the abortion. Such law enforcement reports can take weeks or months to obtain under Idaho’s Public Records law because they are legally sealed while criminal investigations are underway.

The Idaho Supreme Court case will likely move forward even if Roe v. Wade is overturned and Idaho’s trigger law takes effect. Rebecca Gibron, Chief Executive Officer of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, said her organization is looking forward to its lawyers arguing the case.

“Our claims arise under the state constitution, and therefore will not be affected by the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling,” Gibron wrote in an email. “No matter the federal ruling, we will do everything we possibly can to ensure Idahoans can continue to access the care that they deserve, including abortion.”

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