Idaho Supreme Court Allows Abortion Ban To Take Effect

The Idaho Supreme Court is allowing the state’s three abortion-restricting laws to take effect while various legal challenges to the measures are considered in court.

In a ruling Friday, the high court decided there was no evident right to abortion in Idaho’s constitution and that the laws banning the procedure would have to take effect, pending further litigation.

“What Petitioners are asking this court to ultimately do is to declare a right to abortion under the Idaho Constitution when — on its face — there is none,” the court wrote.

“In short, given the legal history of Idaho, we cannot simply infer such a right exists absent Roe without breaking new legal ground, which should only occur after the matter is finally submitted on the merits,” the court added.

The challenge to Idaho’s abortion restrictions was considered by the court after a doctor and a Planned Parenthood affiliate sued the state earlier this year. In their lawsuit, Dr. Caitlin Gustafson and Planned Parenthood alleged the bans would cause substantial harm to the state’s citizens.

Attorneys for the petitioners also argued that one of the exceptions to Idaho’s abortion ban — which allows the procedure in cases where the life of the mother is at risk — was difficult to define.

“That language gives no indication of how imminent, or substantial, the risk of death must be in order for a provider to feel confident,” attorney Alan Schoenfeld said. “Suppose a patient with pulmonary hypertension has a 30 to 50% risk of dying… is that enough?”

In its ruling, however, the court found that Gustafson and Planned Parenthood had failed to show that the laws would cause “irreparable harm” or that they had a “clear right” to a remedy.

Idaho’s three laws restricting abortion are now set to take effect starting Aug. 25. The bans are still being considered in other legal challenges in the state, however.

One such challenge was filed by the U.S. Department of Justice, which alleges that the abortion ban is unconstitutional and in violation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.

“If a patient comes to the emergency room with a medical emergency jeopardizing the patients’ life or health, the hospital must provide the treatment necessary to stabilize that patient,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a press conference. “This includes abortion when that is the necessary treatment.”