Thursday, March 7, 2013

Idaho's 20-week abortion ban struck down

Posted By on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 at 9:59 AM

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Idaho's law that, like Arkansas's new law introduced by Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Right Hand of God, bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, has been struck down in federal court.

Sen. Jason Rapert's bill, now law, that prohibits abortion at 14 12 weeks, is certain to be struck down in federal court (as even Rapert must know). Though in a different court, Winmill's action gives Arkansas women — especially those who learn after 20 weeks that their fetus has fatal defects — hope that Arkansas's 20-week ban will also fail in court and they will once again have the right to end a tragic pregnancy.

The Idaho law was also based on the belief of some doctors and politicians that the fetus begins to feel pain at 20 weeks. But U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill said the law unduly burdened women exercising their legal right to abortion prior to viability: “The state may not rely on its interest in the potential life of the fetus to place a substantial obstacle to abortion before viability in women’s paths.”

The judge also struck down two other abortion bills produced by the Idaho legislature. From the Washington Post:

One is Idaho’s requirement that first-trimester abortions be performed by a physician in a staffed office or clinic, a law that makes most drug-induced abortions, such as RU-486, illegal. The ruling also targets a law requiring that second-trimester abortions be performed in a hospital and a statute that criminalizes the woman in some cases for undergoing the procedure.

“Historically, abortion statutes sought to protect pregnant females from third parties providing dangerous abortions,” Winmill wrote. “As a result, most states’ abortion laws traditionally criminalized the behavior of third parties to protect the health of pregnant women — they did not punish women for obtaining an abortion. By punishing women, Idaho’s abortion statute is therefore unusual.”

The plaintiff, who had three children and was living in poverty, had been charged in a criminal action after she aborted, with help from online abortifacients, a fetus determined to be between 20 and 24 weeks gestational age. A judge dismissed the case for lack of evidence, but prosecutors could have refiled it.

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