BOISE, Idaho — A court order remains in place prohibiting enforcement of the new law that allows private lawsuits as a way of enforcing Idaho's ban on most abortions.
The Idaho Supreme Court on Friday denied a motion to vacate the stay, filed on behalf of the State of Idaho and the Idaho Legislature. The legislature and the state are defendants in a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood Great Northwest and Dr. Caitlin Gustafson, a Valley County physician.
The Planned Parenthood lawsuit challenges Senate Bill 1309, which Gov. Brad Little signed into law on March 23. The law, an amendment to the Fetal Heartbeat Preborn Child Protection Act, allows an expectant father, grandparent, sibling, aunt or uncle to sue a medical provider who performs or attempts to perform an abortion that violates the law for damages of $20,000 or more, plus court costs and attorney fees. There are exceptions for medical emergencies, rape and incest. The legislation requires a police report in cases of rape or incest.
SB 1309 was set to take effect April 22, but enforcement was blocked when the Idaho Supreme Court issued a stay. That followed the state's filing of a motion asking the court to reconsider an order that would have moved up the briefing and argument schedule in time for a possible decision on the case before April 22. Planned Parenthood agreed to allow more time if enforcement of SB 1309 was blocked while the lawsuit was still pending.
Along with the new section that would allow civil enforcement of Idaho's abortion law, the law amended by SB 1309 includes felony criminal penalties in the event of a court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision establishing abortion rights in the U.S. A draft opinion that signaled a possible U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the Roe case, in response to a Mississippi case, was leaked in early May and reported by Politico, but the court has not issued its final ruling.
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