Idaho on Wednesday became the first state to enact a law modeled after a Texas statute banning abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy and allowing it to be enforced through civil lawsuits to avoid constitutional court challenges.
Republican Gov. Brad Little signed into law the measure that allows people who would have been family members to sue a doctor who performs an abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected.
“I stand in solidarity with all Idahoans who seek to protect the lives of preborn babies,” Little wrote in a letter to Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who is also president of the Senate.
Little did express whether the law was constitutional and also if it would face any legal challenges. “While I support the pro-life policy in this legislation, I fear the novel civil enforcement mechanism will in short order be proven both unconstitutional and unwise,” Little wrote.
Little also expressed concerns about “unintended consequences” that the law could have, including on sexual assault victims. “Ultimately, this legislation risks retraumatizing victims by affording monetary incentives to wrongdoers and family members of rapists,” he wrote.
The Idaho law allows the father, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles of a “preborn child” to each sue an abortion provider for a minimum of $20,000 in damages within four years after the abortion. This means that Rapists can’t file a lawsuit under the law, however their relatives could.
“The vigilante aspect of this bill is absurd,” said Idaho Democratic Rep. Lauren Necochea. “Its impacts are cruel, and it is blatantly unconstitutional.”
Republican Rep. Steven Harris, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement after the vote on Monday, March 14th: “This bill makes sure that the people of Idaho can stand up for our values and do everything in our power to prevent the wanton destruction of innocent human life.”
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