Wednesday, April 17

Idaho lawmakers pass 6-week abortion ban styled after Texas law

Some family members of the fetus can sue a doctor who performs an abortion.

A bill that seeks to prevent most abortions from occurring in Idaho has just passed in the state legislature and is heading to the governor’s desk.

The bill is the first in the country to be modeled after the recent law passed in Texas that bans abortions after six weeks, before many women know they’re pregnant.

Idaho’s bill prohibits abortions after six weeks and allows the father, grandparents, siblings, uncles or aunts of the fetus to sue a medical provider who performs the procedure.

Family members can sue for a minimum of $20,000 within four years of an abortion. While a rapist wouldn’t be allowed to sue, their family members could.

The state House of Representatives passed the bill Monday night 51-14, almost exclusively along party lines, after the state Senate passed the bill earlier this month.

“This bill makes sure that the people of Idaho can stand up for our values and do everything in our power to prevent the wanton destruction of innocent human life,” state Rep. Steven Harris, a Republican and the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement following the vote.

The bill is now heading to Republican Gov. Brad Little’s desk to await his signature.

Little signed a similar “fetal heartbeat” bill into law last year that bans abortions after a fetus’ heartbeat is detected, and he is expected to sign this one as well.

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The governor’s office did not reply to ABC News’ request for comment.

There are a few differences between the Idaho bill and the Texas law.

Both allow for exceptions in the case of a medical emergency, but the Texas law does not allow for exceptions in cases of rape or incest whereas the Idaho bill does allow for such exceptions.

However, women who want an abortion under those exceptions are required to file a police report and show it to the medical provider before the abortion.

Another difference between the two pieces of legislation is that the Idaho bill only allows for certain family members of the fetus to sue the medical provider who performed the abortion, but the Texas law allows almost any private citizen to sue any Texas doctor who performs an abortion, intends to perform an abortion or helps a woman receive an abortion.

Kim Clark, senior attorney at Legal Voice — a non-profit organization advocating for the legal rights of women, girls and LGBTQ people in the Northwest — said this could lead to women in abusive relationships being further harassed by their partners.

“This essentially makes the state complicit in intimate partner violence,” Clark told ABC News. “Allowing a member of the person’s family to bring a claim, that could include an abuser where the survivor hasn’t reported the assault.”

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She continued, “When women are unable to access abortion care, rates of homicide or harm to other children can skyrocket.”

A November 2021 study from Tulane University in New Orleans found more pregnant women die by homicide every year than other pregnancy-related causes.

Compared to non-pregnant women of the same age, pregnant women were 16% more likely to die by homicide, the study found.

Chelsea Gaona-Lincoln, the Idaho programs manager for Legal Voice, said she doesn’t think lawmakers are trying to prevent unwanted pregnancies, pointing out that the Idaho House on Monday night also voted down a bill that would allow women to receive a six-month maximum supply of contraceptive prescriptions, up from three months.

“The same body voted down a contraception bill that would allow women to get birth control for up to six months,” she told ABC News. “They don’t really care about preventing unwanted pregnancies. This is about political control.”

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