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Idaho's Supreme Court will hear challenges to restrictive abortion laws


The Idaho Supreme Court is hearing challenges to some of the country's most restrictive abortion laws today. They include a Texas-style law allowing family members to sue doctors. From member station Boise State Public Radio, Julie Luchetta reports.

JULIE LUCHETTA, BYLINE: Since 2020, Idaho's legislature passed three laws. One bans all abortions except in cases of rape, incest and threats to the life of the mother. The second prohibits abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. And the third allows family of an aborted fetus to sue the doctors for $20,000 or more. Shaakirrah Sanders teaches law at the University of Idaho.

SHAAKIRRAH SANDERS: So now all of these laws are in effect. But their underlying constitutionality under the state constitution has not been examined.

LUCHETTA: Planned Parenthood is suing to overturn the laws, saying they violate privacy, equal protection and due process rights. Idaho's attorney general declined to comment for this story. Planned Parenthood says the exceptions for rape or incest require police reports, which can take months to get. And they argue the ban is too vague because it only allows abortions in, quote, "medical emergencies."

SANDERS: Well, what about health? And how far does life have to be in jeopardy before the procedure can be performed?

LUCHETTA: Family care obstetrician in western Idaho Caitlin Gustafson is also a plaintiff.

CAITLIN GUSTAFSON: Pregnant people can face situations of life-threatening bleeding, life-threatening infections, in which the standard of care has always been and will remain abortion care.

LUCHETTA: Blaine Conzatti's Idaho Family Policy Center, an anti-abortion Christian ministry, helped to draft some of the bans.

BLAINE CONZATTI: This is not about women's rights. All of our pre-Roe laws throughout the country had the same exception and statute. We're simply returning back to the status quo before Roe.

LUCHETTA: Planned Parenthood asked for the laws to be put on hold in August. The court voted 3-2 to turn down their request. The University of Idaho's Shaakirrah Sanders says if the bans stay in effect, voters could decide their future.

SANDERS: Will the voters of Idaho reprioritize their state supreme court, their state appellate court candidates based on this issue?

LUCHETTA: Two state justices are up for reelection in November.

For NPR News, I'm Julie Luchetta in Boise.

(SOUNDBITE OF KAKI KING'S "SO MUCH FOR SO LITTLE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: October 11, 2022 at 10:00 PM MDT
The audio and transcript for this story incorrectly states that two state justices are up for re-election in November. In fact, the justices were unopposed in primary elections and are not on the November ballot.
Julie Luchetta