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With Roe v. Wade overturned, Idaho's trigger law goes into effect

There is now a 30-day countdown in Idaho until abortion becomes a felony crime, punishable by two to five years in prison.

IDAHO, USA — On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade, ending nearly 50 years of federally guaranteed access to abortion.

In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little said he welcomes this "long-awaited decision to uphold state sovereignty."

Senator Jim Risch said the Roe v. Wade decision from 1973 "got it wrong" and that today's Supreme Court decision "is a step toward righting that wrong."

Many Idaho lawmakers praised the state's trigger law, making it automatic that abortion in Idaho will soon be illegal.

"We've known this moment was coming for quite some time, especially since the leaked draft that we all saw last month," Mistie Dellicarpini-Tolman of Idaho Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates said. "That does not mean that this monumental moment in time is any less shockingly devastating."

Idaho's trigger law regarding abortion was passed two years ago in 2020, officially signed into law by Gov. Little. With today's supreme court decision, it was automatically triggered, meaning there is now a 30-day countdown in the state until abortion becomes a felony, punishable by 2-5 years in prison.

"The Idaho trigger ban expressly exempts pregnant people from obtaining abortion care," Legal Voice Attorney Kim Clark said. "The criminal penalties are imposed on providers who offer care."

There are limited exceptions to Idaho's soon-to-be abortion ban. It will only be allowed in cases of rape or incest. It will also be allowed if it's medically necessary to save a pregnant woman's life.

In those cases, a rape or incest victim must give a copy of a police report to the doctor performing the abortion. If it's to save a woman's life, doctors must be able to prove it's "more likely than not," "in good faith medical judgment," and "necessary to prevent the death of a pregnant woman."

Experts worry about who will be impacted most by the new ban.

"Once again, our nation's most vulnerable communities, which are communities of color, immigrants, the LGBT communities, young people, people struggling to make ends meet, will be disproportionately be impacted by this particular decision," ACLU Idaho Executive Director Leo Morales said.

The law also clarifies that abortion is "not seen as necessary when a doctor believes the pregnant woman might hurt herself."

University of Idaho Constitutional Law Professor Shaakira Sanders says the court's decision highlights numerous disparities in medical issues regarding women of color, particularly African American and Native American women.

"You also see disparities when it comes to poor women," Sanders said. "So again, it's not exactly clear to me when talking about health, safety, life, if we're talking about catastrophic incidents or occurrences or if that is broad enough to include psychological issues and things of that nature."

Idaho planned parenthood and other abortion providers say they'll continue providing procedures for the next 30 days. After that, they'll continue to be a resource for women in the state, making sure they know their options when traveling to other states, like Washington, for the care they need.

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