Posts tagged: fetal pain
Idaho's 'fetal pain' abortion law, banning abortions after 20 weeks based on the disputed idea that a fetus at that point can feel pain, has been overturned in federal court as unconstitutional. The law, passed in 2011, was found to be an undue burden on a woman's right to have an abortion. U.S. District Judge Lynn Winmill, in a 42-page decision, found “compelling evidence of the legislature's 'improper purpose' in enacting it,” writing, “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 ruling also strikes down two other Idaho laws regarding abortion, one requiring that first-trimester abortions be performed by a physician in a staffed office, thereby making drug-induced abortions illegal; and one that criminalizes women who have abortions. “Historically, abortion statutes sought to protect pregnant females from third parties providing dangerous abortions,” the judge 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.” Click below for a full report from AP reporters Rebecca Boone and Todd Dvorak.
The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals today ruled that Idaho's law imposing felony penalties on women who obtain abortions in the state that don't follow all the state's legal guidelines likely is unconstitutional, a win for a Pocatello woman who was charged after obtaining abortion drugs over the Internet and inducing an abortion. “There can be no doubt that requiring women to explore the intricacies of state abortion statutes to ensure that they and their provider act within the Idaho abortion statute framework results in an 'undue burden' on a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus,” the appeals court wrote in its decision. That leaves in place an injunction barring a prosecutor from reimposing the charges against the woman, which had been dropped but could be refiled.
However, the court also ruled that the woman didn't have standing to challenge another Idaho abortion law, banning all abortions after 20 weeks on the basis of presumed fetal pain; that law was passed after her case occurred, and exempts the pregnant woman from its criminal penalties, instead imposing them on providers. The woman's attorney, who also is a physician, still is challenging that law. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone; you can read the court's ruling here.
The first challenge to the constitutionality of the so-called fetal pain anti-abortion laws enacted in several states has come from an unlikely place; so has the second, reports the Associated Press. Rick Hearn, the lawyer in the center of this fight, represents an Idaho woman challenging her state's abortion laws in an effort to avoid future prosecution. The same Rick Hearn, who also is a physician, is attempting to jump into the case as a plaintiff using his status as a doctor, even though he has never terminated a pregnancy, in an effort to make sure that if the case is successful, it applies broadly enough to get his client off the hook for good, reports AP reporter Rebecca Boone.
Idaho is among more than half a dozen states that have recently passed legislation banning abortion after 19 weeks of pregnancy based on disputed scientific testimony about ability of fetuses to feel pain at 20 weeks. Idaho's law passed last year; it's now being challenged in federal court. Click below for Boone's full report.