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Idaho Democratic legislative leaders call on GOP to drop appeal of abortion ban ruling

Aug. 26, 2022 Updated Fri., Aug. 26, 2022 at 8:56 p.m.

Idaho House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, center, prepares to speak during a news conference Thursday at the Idaho State Capitol.  (Clark Corbin/Idaho Capital Sun)
Idaho House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, center, prepares to speak during a news conference Thursday at the Idaho State Capitol. (Clark Corbin/Idaho Capital Sun)
By Clark Corbin Idaho Capital Sun

Two Idaho Democratic legislative leaders called on Republican legislative leaders and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to drop their appeals of Tuesday’s ruling that pauses elements of Idaho’s near-total abortion ban that apply to care of pregnant patients in emergency rooms.

During a news conference at the Idaho State Capitol on Thursday, House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel and Sen. Melissa Wintrow, both D-Boise, said appeals would cost taxpayers money to pursue a position that would endanger pregnant patients whose health is “in serious jeopardy.”

The Democrats announcement came the day after Wednesday’s ruling from District Judge B. Lynn Winmill that paused enforcement of elements of Idaho’s abortion ban law that may conflict with the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. Winmill issued the ruling after the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit earlier this summer challenging Idaho’s abortion law and arguing elements of it conflict with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.

Thursday was also the day that remaining provisions of the near-total abortion ban law became effective in Idaho.

“Taxpayers should not be forced to fund a legal effort that’s sole aim is to deny women emergency medical care so they could be left paralyzed or with loss of organ function,” Rubel said during the press conference. “We call on Lawrence Wasden, Speaker (Scott) Bedke and Pro Tem (Chuck) Winder to accept Judge Winmill’s ruling and to forgo any further appeals.”

Meanwhile, Idaho Republican legislative leaders released a statement vowing to fight Winmill’s ruling. They argued the injunction pausing enforcement of elements of the abortion ban could result in more abortions.

“To protect the lives of as many of these children as possible, the Idaho Legislature will pursue all legal means to bring this injunction to an end as quickly as possible,” Republican legislative leaders wrote in a statement issued Wednesday. “The Idaho House Republican Caucus is confident that a lower or a higher appellate court will hold the federal administration’s case to be without merit.”

During the news conference, Wintrow said the state could instead reduce the need for abortions by increasing access to birth control and promoting and teaching medically accurate sexual health education. Wintrow also decried elements of the abortion law that remain intact that would only provide an exception for victims of rape and incest if they first provided a copy of a police report.

“The wearing down of our rights are exhausting and debilitating,” Wintrow said.

Winmill’s junction will be in effect until a final judgment is reached in the case.

The Idaho Attorney General’s Office declined to comment on Winmill’s ruling, saying the case is still active, the Sun previously reported.

Under Idaho’s abortion ban law, a medical provider who violates the law faces a prison sentence of two to five years. Anyone who performs an abortion or assists in performing an abortion could also have their medical license suspended for six months upon a first violation and then revoked upon a second violation.

Idaho’s abortion ban law is Senate Bill 1385, which Republicans passed during the 2020 legislative session. It was written so that it would take effect 30 days after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing a right to an abortion.

Idaho Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Idaho Capital Sun maintains editorial independence.

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