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Idaho top court allows near-total abortion ban to take effect, lawsuits move forward

The Republican-backed state law criminalizes nearly all abortions
Idaho Supreme Court
Posted at 6:51 PM, Aug 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-12 21:51:10-04

BOISE, Idaho  — The Idaho Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would allow the state's existing abortion ban legislation to take effect as several Planned Parenthood lawsuits challenging the laws move forward.

In an opinion released Friday afternoon, the Idaho Supreme Court denied a request from the regional branch of Planned Parenthood to block the trigger ban from the 2020 law and lifted the block on the 2022 Texas-style lawsuit enforcement added to a previous abortion law.

The 2020 Fetal Heartbeat law bans almost all abortions with few exceptions for rape, incest, or if the mother’s life is in danger and includes criminal penalties for doctors. The "Texas-style" law is the six-week ban, which amends the fetal heartbeat protection act. It includes a civil enforcement mechanism passed by the legislature earlier this year and is inspired by a Texas bill.

The opinion states the request to block the bans was denied because Planned Parenthood did "not demonstrate a substantial likelihood of success on the merits or a 'clear right' to the relief sought." The court ruled the petitioners failed to show the abortion ban laws will do irreparable injury as well as they would likely win in a trial.

Related: Multiple lawsuits are pending against Idaho abortion laws. Here's what to know.

The state Supreme Court noted the Supreme Court of the United States ruling overturning Roe v. Wade "altered the landscape" of constitutional law, and the right to an abortion is not protected in the United States Constitution.

"Petitioners must demonstrate a substantial likelihood of success on the merits or a 'clear right' to the ultimate relief requested," the opinion states. "In the post-Dobbs landscape, Petitioners cannot meet this burden and as such, are not entitled to the drastic relief they pursue."

By similar reasoning, the state's Supreme Court ruled the block on the 2022 Texas-style abortion ban is lifted.

"We again conclude that Petitioners have failed to establish a substantial likelihood of success on the merits or a 'clear right' to relief on any of their claims and, therefore, have failed to carry their burden to demonstrate that we should continue to stay the enforcement of S.B. 1309," the opinion states.

All three Planned Parenthood lawsuits will be consolidated, and arguments will be heard in court on September 29.

The Department of Justice previously filed a lawsuit against the State of Idaho over its abortion ban. That lawsuit is in Federal Court and is separate from the Idaho Supreme Court's ruling on the three Planned Parenthood lawsuits.

Related: 'Overreaching yet again': Top Idaho officials respond to DOJ lawsuit challenging Idaho's abortion bans

The Fetal Heartbeat law is set to take effect on August 19. The total abortion ban, also known as Idaho's trigger law, will take effect on Aug. 25.

Officials with Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, and Kentucky said the opinion allows the legislature to make health care decisions for people across the state and forces healthcare workers to deny Idahoans care.

“It’s been a little over a month since the U.S. Supreme Court disregarded 50 years of precedent and threw patients across the country into a world of chaos, fear, and confusion,” said Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai‘i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky. “The Idaho state legislature has made it abundantly clear that this is the future they want for their constituents, and today, the court allowed their vision to become a reality. But this fight is not over. These cases and our fight to ensure that every Idahoan has access to legal, safe abortion care will continue.”

In a statement, President of Idaho Family Policy Center Blaine Conzatti celebrated the decisions, calling this is a day the pro-life movement has been working toward for decades.

"As we have been saying for months, our Idaho Heartbeat law is constitutionally, scientifically, and morally sound," Conzatti said. "We were confident that our Heartbeat law would withstand judicial scrutiny, and today is a life-saving step in that direction. We remain confident that further litigation on this issue will result in the same outcome, and we expect that thousands of babies will receive the opportunity to live their lives as a result of this law."

Read the full opinion here:

This story was originally published by KIVI in Boise, Idaho.