Court battles against abortion continue, even in deep red states

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Virtually all abortions are likely to eventually be banned in the deeply conservative state of Idaho, along with most other Republican-dominated states, but there are still battles to be fought in the courts and perhaps in the legislature before it happens.

On Wednesday, attorneys representing a doctor and Planned Parenthood’s regional affiliate will appear before the Idaho Supreme Court to ask justices to block the enforcement of three laws intended to restrict abortion.

From the June 24 ruling from the federal superior court In reversing the decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973, the fight against abortion has continued to play out in the courts, with judges deciding whether bans or other sweeping restrictions can be enforced.

The landscape has been changing almost daily. Bans on abortion at any time during pregnancy are being enforced in eight states and as soon as fetal heart activity can be detected, usually around six weeks’ gestation, in five others. And most or all clinics have stopped offering abortion services in a handful of additional states due to legal uncertainty.

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

In several cases, judges have stopped enforcing the bans, allowing at least some abortions to continue, at least for a while.

In Kentucky, where enforcement of a ban has stopped and started multiple times since June, it has been allowed to resume with a fail monday.

And in Louisianathere were about 610 abortions per month in 2021. With the change in status, 249 were reported from June 24 to July 29. While that’s far less than normal for that period, the legal fight allowed some patients access.

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

Although the six-week abortion ban contains exceptions for procedures performed to save the life of the pregnant person or in cases of rape or incest, the exceptions set a very high bar that experts say will be difficult to meet. For example, people using the rape or incest exception will have to report the crime to law enforcement 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 under the Idaho public registry. laws

A total ban on abortion would allow health care providers to be charged with a crime even if abortion is the only way to save their patient’s life, but health care providers could try to defend themselves in court with evidence that the procedure It 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 would be difficult or impossible to implement to provide care to a pregnant person whose life may be at risk. They say that in some situations, such as when the placenta begins to separate from the uterine wall, causing dangerous bleeding, or when a pregnant person’s blood pressure begins to skyrocket, patients sometimes die or experience long-term damage, but those results are ‘Not always sure.

The doctor and the abortion rights group argue that the law that allows potential relatives of an embryo or fetus to sue abortion providers wrongly enforces a state law and puts it in the hands of individuals rather than state entities. , a violation of the separation of governmental powers. . The law allows the father, grandparents, siblings, aunts, and uncles of an “unborn child” to sue an abortion provider for a minimum of $20,000 in damages within four years of the abortion. Rapists cannot sue under the law, but relatives of the rapist can.

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

And the Idaho Republican Party at its annual convention last month passed a resolution opposing abortion in all cases, even if done to save the life of the mother.

Still, abortion-rights advocates have been galvanized following the US Supreme Court ruling. Abortion-rights protests have drawn large crowds in Boise, and anti-abortion rallies are held with frequency in the vicinity. An abortion rights protest at the Statehouse was scheduled for Wednesday night, set to begin several hours after the state’s supreme court finished hearing arguments in the Planned Parenthood cases.

The Boise City Council passed a resolution last month limiting funding for abortion research and stating that investigations to prosecute abortion providers will not be prioritized.


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

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