The “Fetal Heartbeat Preborn Child Protection Act,” or Senate Bill 1309, was modeled after the Texas Heartbeat Act, and would have gone into effect on April 22. It contained exceptions for rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother, though it is never medically necessary to intentionally and directly kill a preborn child. Where the bill differs from Texas is that it only allows family to sue abortionists, and the penalty is doubled to $20,000.
Though Governor Brad Little signed the bill into law last month, he openly expressed reservations. “I stand in solidarity with all Idahoans who seek to protect the lives of preborn babies,” he wrote, adding, “I fear the novel civil enforcement mechanism will in short order be proven both unconstitutional and unwise.” Little also said, “I am particularly concerned for those vulnerable women and children who lack the capacity or familial support to report incest and sexual assault. Ultimately, this legislation risks re-traumatizing victims by affording monetary [incentives] to wrongdoers and family members of rapists.”
The stay was announced late Friday afternoon by Chief Justice Richard Bevan so Idaho attorneys will have more time to prepare for the lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, with the state specifically filing a motion requesting the stay after Planned Parenthood’s request to expedite court proceedings was approved.
Planned Parenthood celebrated the news of the law being blocked. “Patients across Idaho can breathe a sigh of relief tonight,” Rebecca Gibron, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, said in a statement. “We are thrilled that abortion will remain accessible in the state for now, but our fight to ensure that Idahoans can fully access their constitutionally protected rights is far from over.”
Though Planned Parenthood and Little both said the law may be unconstitutional, Texas should serve as a sign otherwise, as the Texas Heartbeat Act has been able to withstand multiple court challenges so far. Blaine Conzatti, president of the Idaho Family Policy Center, said he believes Idaho’s law will do the same, saying, “A similar Texas law has successfully withstood several legal challenges in the federal courts, and we’re confident that our new law will survive any forthcoming legal challenge and begin saving pre-born babies.”
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