Abortion lawsuits continue even in scarlet states

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BOISE, Idaho (TBEN) — It’s likely that virtually all abortions will eventually be banned in very conservative Idaho, along with most other Republican-dominated states, but there are still battles to be played in court and perhaps the legislature. power before it happens.

On Wednesday, lawyers representing a physician and the regional Planned Parenthood affiliate will appear before the Idaho Supreme Court to ask the judges to block enforcement of three laws designed to restrict abortion.

Since the June 24 Supreme Federal Court ruling overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the abortion battle has continued to play out in courts, with judges deciding whether a ban or other sweeping restrictions can be enforced.

The landscape shifts almost daily. Bans on abortion at any time during pregnancy are enforced in eight states and once fetal heart activity can be detected — usually around six weeks of pregnancy — in another five. And most or all clinics have stopped offering abortion services in a handful of other states due to legal uncertainty.

Abortion rights groups, which have spent decades in courts trying to maintain access, are continuing the fight, even in places like Idaho, where they are unlikely to prevail in the long run.

In several cases, judges have paused enforcement of bans, allowing at least some abortions to continue, at least for some time.

In Kentucky, where enforcement of a ban has stopped and started several times since June, enforcement was allowed to resume with a ruling Monday.

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And in Louisiana, there were about 610 abortions per month by 2021. With the shifting status, 249 were reported from June 24 to July 29. While that is much less than normal during that period, the legal battle gave some patients access.

In the Idaho cases, Dr. Caitlin Gustafson and Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky to state more than three laws. One expected to go into effect on August 19 would ban abortions for pregnancies after six weeks and one that would go into effect on August 25 would effectively ban all abortions. A third law allows potential relatives of a fetus or embryo to sue medical providers who perform an abortion.

While the six-week abortion ban both includes exceptions for procedures performed to save the pregnant person’s life or in cases of rape or incest, the exceptions set a very high bar that experts say will be difficult to achieve. For example, people using the rape or incest exception will have to report the crime to the police and then show that report to the abortion provider — but it often takes weeks or months to get a copy of a newly filed police report, according to the public registry of Idaho laws.

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The total abortion ban would allow health care providers to be charged with a crime even if the abortion is the only way to save their patient’s life – but the health care providers could then try to defend themselves in court with evidence that the proceedings was necessary because of an immediate medical emergency.

Gustafson and Planned Parenthood have argued in court documents that the medical emergency waivers are vague and difficult or impossible to implement to provide care to a pregnant person whose life may be in danger. They say that some situations — such as when the placenta begins to pull away from the uterine wall, causing risky bleeding, or when a pregnant person’s blood pressure skyrockets — sometimes patients die or experience long-term damage, but those results aren’t always certain. .

The Physician and Abortion Rights Group argues that the law allowing potential relatives of an embryo or fetus to sue abortion providers falsely places the enforcement of a state law in the hands of individuals rather than state entities, a violation of the divorce law. of government powers. The law allows the father, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles of an “unborn child” to each sue an abortion provider for a minimum of $20,000 in damages within four years of the abortion. Rapists cannot file a lawsuit under the law, but a rapist’s relatives can.

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The Idaho Legislature and the Office of the Attorney General of Idaho have contradicted that it is in the state’s best interest to ban abortion and that the legislature has the right to enact anti-abortion laws. The office of Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has also argued that abortion rights advocates should take their fight to the polls, not the courts.

And the Idaho GOP at its annual convention last month passed a resolution that opposes abortion in all cases — even if it’s done to save the mother’s life.

Still, abortion rights advocates have become enthusiastic after the US Supreme Court ruling.

Kansas voters Tuesday rejected a ballot measure that would have allowed the Republican-controlled legislature to tighten restrictions or outright ban the procedure in the conservative state with deep ties to the anti-abortion movement.

Abortion rights protests have gathered large crowds in Boise, with anti-abortion rallies often held nearby. A protest against abortion rights was set to be held at the Statehouse Wednesday night, hours after the state’s highest court finished hearing arguments in the Planned Parenthood cases.

The Boise City Council passed a resolution last month limiting funding for abortion investigations, stating that investigations aimed at prosecuting abortion providers will not be prioritized.

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TBEN writers Sara Cline in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Geoff Mulvihill in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, contributed to this article.

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