An unusual new Texas law that relies on ordinary citizens to enforce a ban on abortions after approximately six weeks of pregnancy was copied by Idaho on Monday, making it the first state to do so. The law was copied from Texas because it was challenged in court, and Idaho became the first state to do so.
Idaho’s House of Representatives, headed by Republicans, passed the measure 51-14 and sent it to Gov. Brad Little. In a separate piece of legislation enacted last year, Mr. Little, a Republican, has already signed a bill prohibiting abortion.
The bill was the latest expression of confidence on the part of anti-abortion activists and legislators from all around the nation. According to both sides of the abortion issue, the Supreme Court may either limit or overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion, by the summer.
Under Roe v. Wade, states are prohibited from prohibiting abortion before a foetus is viable outside the womb, which is around 23 weeks of pregnancy with contemporary medical technology. However, when the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in December regarding a Mississippi law that prohibits abortion after 15 weeks, the court’s conservative justices looked inclined to overrule their earlier ruling.
The court has also rejected to intervene in order to prevent the implementation of the Texas legislation, which went into force in September. The Texas Supreme Court said on Friday that it was unable to overturn the restriction because the legislation clearly bars the state officials who were sued from enforcing the prohibition from doing so.
It is legal for any citizen to sue anybody, even a ride-share driver or a doctor, who “aides or abets” a woman in seeking an abortion when embryonic cardiac activity is found, which typically occurs about six weeks after conception – far before many women are aware they are pregnant. It gives a reward of $10,000 plus legal expenses in the event of a successful lawsuit. Known as a “heartbeat bill,” the Idaho law allows family members of what the text refers to as “a preborn child” to sue the abortion practitioner and creates a prize of at least $20,000 in addition to attorney’s fees and expenses. It enables for lawsuits against abortion providers to be filed for up to four years after an abortion has taken place.
The Texas legislation, which is widely regarded as the most stringent in the country, makes no exceptions for women who have been the victims of rape or incest. An exemption is provided by the Idaho legislation; nevertheless it requires women to submit a police report and bring it along with them to the abortion provider before they may have an abortion. Women who get an abortion would not be prosecuted in any state.
Earlier this year, only a few months before Texas approved its law, the state of Idaho passed legislation making it illegal to conduct an abortion if foetal heart activity is found. However, legislators included a trigger, stating that the legislation would not take effect unless an appeals court supported a similar statute in another state. Recognizing that the measure was likely illegal, lawmakers included the trigger.
Earlier this month, Idaho’s attorney general, a Republican, expressed concern that the new measure with civilian enforcement would “certainly be found to violate established constitutional rights,” according to an opinion released this month. He said that it might also be a violation of the constitutionally mandated separation of powers in the state of Idaho.
The governor is anti-abortion and signed the trigger bill that was approved last year as a result. It would take effect 30 days after President Obama approves the new legislation permitting citizen enforcement.
The mother, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles of the “preborn kid,” as well as the father, are all included as people who may file a lawsuit under the provisions of the bill. It does not permit rapists to file a lawsuit after an abortion has been done.
Representative Lauren Necochea, a Democrat who voted against the measure, inquired before Monday’s vote about the possibility of suing an abortion provider on behalf of the siblings of a rapist.
Mr. Harris, one of the co-sponsors, said that they were able to do so.
Rape and incest were exempted, according to Ms. Necochea, since they were “not significant.”
“This law is not just incomprehensible, it is ludicrous,” she remarked.
Abortion rates in Texas have decreased by 60% since the state’s new abortion legislation went into effect in September, according to data. Because women are crossing state lines to have abortions, some abortion facilities in neighbouring states have reported a spike in demand of up to 800 percent in recent months. Oklahoma is one of the states that is contemplating enacting its own six-week ban.
According to Alexis McGill Johnson, the president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, “it is outrageous that anybody could look at the instability and devastation that has been wreaking havoc in Texas over the last six months and conclude, ‘I want that for the people in my state.”