The abortion court battles continue, even in the deep red states

The abortion court battles continue, even in the deep red states

Indian abortion (AP)

Indian abortion (AP)

It is likely that virtually all abortions will eventually be banned in deeply conservative Idaho, along with most other Republican-dominated states, but there are still battles to be waged in court and perhaps the legislator before that happens.

On Wednesday, attorneys representing a doctor and Planned Parenthood’s regional affiliate will be before the Idaho Supreme Court asking judges to block the application of three laws designed to restrict abortion.

Since the June 24 ruling of the higher federal court overturned the Roe v. Wade of 1973, the fight against abortion continued to unfold in the courts, with judges deciding whether bans or other profound restrictions could be enforced.

The landscape has changed almost every day. Abortion bans at any time in pregnancy are enforced in eight states, and as soon as fetal heart activity can be detected, usually around six weeks of gestation, in five more. 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, are continuing the fight even in places like Idaho, where they are unlikely to prevail in the long term.

In several cases, judges suspended enforcement of the bans, allowing at least some abortions to continue, at least for a certain period.

In Kentucky, where enforcement of a ban has been halted and started multiple times since June, the execution was cleared to resume with a sentence on Monday.

And in Louisiana, there were about 610 abortions per month in 2021. With the state of change, 249 were reported from June 24 to July 29. Although it was much less than normal at that time, the legal struggle allowed access to some patients.

In Idaho cases, Dr. Caitlin Gustafson and Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky sued the state for three laws. One that would go into effect on August 19 would ban abortions for pregnancies beyond six weeks of gestation, 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 health care providers who perform an abortion.

Although the six-week abortion ban both 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 standard that experts say will be difficult to achieve. For example, people using the rape or incest exception will need 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 police report as soon as filed under the Idaho Public Registry the laws.

The total ban on abortion would allow healthcare workers to be charged with a crime even if abortion is the only way to save their patient’s life, but healthcare workers could then try to defend themselves in court with evidence that the procedure it was necessary because of an immediate medical emergency.

Gustafson and Planned Parenthood argued in court documents that exemptions for medical emergencies 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 some situations – such as when the placenta begins to detach from the uterine wall, causing risky bleeding, or when a pregnant person’s blood pressure begins to skyrocket – patients sometimes die or suffer long-term damage, but these results I’m not always sure.

The doctor and abortion rights group argue that the law that allows potential relatives of an embryo or fetus to sue abortion providers mistakenly takes the application of a state law and puts it in the hands of individuals rather than state entities, a violation of the separation of government powers. The law allows the father, grandparents, siblings, aunts, and uncles of a “prenatal child” to each 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 a rapist could.

The Idaho Legislature and the Idaho Attorney General’s Office have countered 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 also said abortion rights defenders 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 is done to save the mother’s life.

However, advocates of abortion rights have become galvanized in the wake of the US Supreme Court ruling. Abortion rights protests have drawn large crowds in Boise, with anti-abortion rallies often held nearby. An abortion rights protest was to be held at the Statehouse Wednesday night, starting several hours after the state’s highest court finished hearing the arguments in the Planned Parenthood cases.

Last month, the Boise city council passed a resolution limiting funding for abortion investigations and says investigations to prosecute abortion providers will not take priority.


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

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