Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit asking the Idaho Supreme Court to block the state’s new pro-life law, which restricts abortion after a preborn child’s heartbeat can be detected. The new law, Senate Bill 1309, dubbed the “Fetal Heartbeat, Preborn Child Protection Act,” is modeled after the Texas Heartbeat Act, and was signed by Gov. Brad Little on March 23. It is slated to go into effect on April 22.
“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,” Republican Rep. Steven Harris, the bill’s sponsor, said in a previous statement following the vote. A preborn child’s heart begins to beat about 22 days after fertilization. Professor of Anatomy Peter J. Ward states that by day 23, there is a “nice flow of blood already set up through the heart.”
According to ABC News, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, and Dr. Caitlin Gustafson, who commits abortions at Planned Parenthood businesses. It asks that the state Supreme Court rule the law to be unconstitutional and block other Idaho courts from validating it.
When he signed the legislation, Little pointed out that he stands in support of preborn lives, but said that he has reservations about the law’s enforcement mechanism, which he fears will be “proven both unconstitutional and unwise.” The law currently allows family members of the abortion victim to sue the abortion providers for $20,000. While it doesn’t allow a rapist to sue, it doesn’t prevent a rapist’s family member from doing so. Planned Parenthood jumped on Little’s hesitation.
“It should be clear to everyone that the Idaho state legislature intentionally abandoned the ordinary rule of law when they passed this six-week abortion ban. Then the governor joined their effort to deny his constituents their constitutional rights when he signed the abortion ban into law — despite his own acknowledgment that it was wrong,” Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a press release.
While the Texas Heartbeat Act has withstood multiple court challenges, Planned Parenthood pointed out that Texas has “sovereign immunity” laws that make it difficult for citizens to sue the state for issues such as personal injuries. Idaho litigation, however, does allow people to sue the state government if they feel their constitutional rights are being violated.
However, Blaine Conzatti, president of the Idaho Family Policy Center, said that he believes the law is constitutionally sound.
“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,” Conzatti said in an email to the Idaho Statesman.
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