The Idaho Supreme Court on Friday refused to block a state law criminalizing nearly all abortions after the United States Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that had recognized the procedure as a constitutional right.
The ruling would allow potential relatives of an embryo or fetus to sue abortion providers over procedures done after six weeks of gestation, before many people know they are pregnant. Another ban criminalizing all abortions is set to take effect later this month.
In a 3-2 ruling, the top court allowed the laws to take effect but sped up the timeline for lawsuits to be decided.
Abortion rights advocates express dismay
Earlier this year, a doctor and a regional Planned Parenthood affiliate sued the state of Idaho over three anti-abortion laws, most of which were designed to go into effect after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 ruling.
"Tonight, the people of Idaho saw their bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom taken away," Alexis McGill Johnson, the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said after the latest ruling.
"The court's decision today is horrific and cruel. But this isn't the end of the fight, and it isn't our last day in court. No one should see their lives used as pawns by their elected officials or judicial system."
Writing for the court, Justice Robyn Brody said that given the US Supreme Court's decision in June, Planned Parenthood was not entitled to the "drastic" relief it sought, adding that abortion was illegal in Idaho before the Roe decision.
"Moreover, 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," Brody said.
What are the laws?
Under one of the legislations, going into effect after the ruling, potential relatives of embryo or fetus can sue abortion providers for up to $20,000 (about €19,000) within four years of abortion. While rapists cannot sue under the law, a rapist's family members would be able to sue.
Planned Parenthood has also sued over another ban — set to come into effect on August 19 — that criminalizes abortions done after six weeks of gestation except in cases where it was needed to save a pregnant person's life or done because of rape or incest.
The third abortion legislation, which takes effect August 25, will allow a near-total criminalizing of all abortions, but allow doctors to defend themselves at trial by claiming the abortion was done to save the pregnant person's life.