The Idaho Supreme Court, with a 3 to 2 ruling released on August 12, declared that two abortion bans could take effect.
Idaho Family Policy Center President Blaine Conzatti praised the decision, saying,
As of this afternoon, the civil enforcement mechanism of our Idaho Heartbeat Law is in effect!
That means abortionists can now be held civilly liable for every unlawful abortion they perform after a preborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected!
Conzatti told the Daily Citizen that his organization drafted the Heartbeat Law and introduced it to legislative committees.
The Supreme Court explained that in 2020 the legislature passed a Total Abortion Ban, “making it a felony for anyone to perform or attempt to perform or assist with an abortion.” The law allowed for a defense “where the abortion is necessary to prevent the death of a pregnant woman, or the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest that was reported to law enforcement.”
This was a “trigger law,” to go into effect thirty days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and returned abortion law to the states.
The Total Ban also faces a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), as we’ve previously reported. The DOJ established a task force to monitor state abortion laws and sue any states not considered to be in compliance with federal laws.
A second law, the Fetal Heartbeat Preborn Child Protection Act, was passed and signed into law in 2021. It made it “a felony to perform an abortion on a woman when a fetal heartbeat is detected, except in cases involving a medical emergency, rape, or incest.”
That law was amended by the legislature in 2022 to add “a private enforcement mechanism allowing civil lawsuits against medical professionals who perform unlawful abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.”
Planned Parenthood and an abortionist challenged the laws, also asking the court to place a stay on their implementation.
The court agreed to hear Planned Parenthood’s case and ordered the stay. But the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, overturning Roe, changed the playing field.
The court said, “Moreover, what Petitioners are asking this Court to ultimately do is to declare a right to abortion under the Idaho Constitution when – on its face – there is none.”
“In fact,” the justices added, “before Roe announced a federal constitutional right to abortion in 1973, abortion had been a long-standing criminal offense in Idaho.”
According to Conzatti, the ruling does not affect the DOJ lawsuit. He told us,
The state supreme court order last Friday simply vacated an earlier stay blocking implementation of the Heartbeat Law civil penalties and avoided stays requested by Planned Parenthood that would have blocked implementation of the Heartbeat Law’s criminal penalties and the Trigger Law. By vacating the stay on the Heartbeat civil penalties, the court allowed the Heartbeat Law to go into effect immediately.
Conzatti rejoiced and praised God for the decision. He said,
This is the day that the pro-life movement has worked towards for decades! Precious children with beating hearts now finally have legal protection in the state of Idaho – and to God be the glory”
If your state has pro-life legislation in place, you can bet that Family Policy Councils – state-based Focus on the Family allies – worked for years and even decades to help pass that legislation.
Such groups promote life, parental rights, religious freedom, school choice, free speech and pro-family legislation. Contact your state policy group for information about how you can get involved.
Related articles and resources:
The Administration is Working Hard to Counter State Pro-Life Laws
Contact Your State Policy Group
Department of Justice Sues Idaho to Block its Abortion Ban
Idaho Legislature Passes Texas-Style Heartbeat Abortion Ban
What Actually Happened in ‘Dobbs’? A Short Explanation.
BREAKING NEWS: Idaho Heartbeat law is in effect RIGHT NOW!
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