Idaho Supreme Court upholds near-total abortion ban

By James Dawson (Boise State Public Radio News)
Jan. 5, 2023 11:53 p.m.

Idaho’s near-total abortion ban will stand as the state’s supreme court rejected multiple challenges from Planned Parenthood and a local abortion provider.

The only exception when a physician is allowed to perform an abortion under the law are in cases of rape, incest or when a pregnancy threatens the life of the patient.

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Planned Parenthood claimed the laws are unconstitutionally vague and discriminate based on a person’s sex.

The abortion rights organization also claimed there’s an inherent right for a woman to get an abortion in the Idaho Constitution, though the court dismissed that due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s choice to jettison its precedent in Roe v. Wade last summer.

All of their arguments were rejected in the split 3-2 decision.

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“...a “right to abortion” has no support in Idaho’s deeply rooted traditions or history...” wrote Justice Robyn Brody for the majority, noting the state’s longstanding tradition of restricting the practice.

The state’s newest justice, Colleen Zahn, along with Justice John Stegner dissented, saying a pregnant woman does have a fundamental right to an abortion.

“This Court’s solemn duty is to protect the people and their rights from encroachment by the government,” Stegner wrote in his dissent. “That duty has gone unfulfilled today, and it is the people of Idaho who will suffer for it.”

The court foreshadowed its ruling last August when it declined to stay the implementation of these laws in another 3-2 decision. Justice Robyn Brody wrote for the majority at the time, saying Planned Parenthood failed to prove their case would likely succeed.

“…even if [plaintiffs have] carried their burden of demonstrating that irreparable harm will flow from immediate enforcement of the Total Abortion Ban, this alone cannot permit the extraordinary remedy [they] seek,” Brody wrote.

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The Idaho State Capitol in Boise, Idaho, is seen on June 13, 2019.

The Idaho State Capitol in Boise, Idaho, is seen on June 13, 2019.

Keith Ridler / AP

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