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Planned Parenthood files Idaho Supreme Court lawsuit to block abortion trigger law

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Planned Parenthood and one of its abortion providers filed a new lawsuit with Idaho's Supreme Court to block its trigger law banning nearly all abortions, which is scheduled to go into effect within the next six weeks. (Courtesy of Planned Parenthood)

Organization already has one pending lawsuit over another Idaho abortion law

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Friday, Planned Parenthood and one of its abortion providers filed a new lawsuit with Idaho’s Supreme Court to block its trigger law banning nearly all abortions. That law is scheduled to go into effect within the next two months.

Planned Parenthood announced the lawsuit in a press release on Monday afternoon. Lawyers from the law firms WilmerHale and Bartlett French filed the petition on behalf of Planned Parenthood and Idaho provider Dr. Caitlin Gustafson.

The Idaho Legislature passed the abortion trigger law in 2020, with a clause that would make it effective 30 days after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a judgment that returns the authority to regulate abortion procedures to the states. Under court administration schedules, the official judgment is typically issued about 30 days after an opinion is issued, the Idaho Attorney General’s office said, meaning Idaho’s law would go into effect 30 days after that.

The law would make nearly all abortions in Idaho a felony, with affirmative defenses allowed only for rape, incest and to save the pregnant person’s life. A rape or incest victim would have to provide a copy of a police report to the physician who would perform the procedure, a process which can sometimes take weeks or months.

According to the release, Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit contends that the ban violates Idahoans’ right to privacy and equal protection under the Idaho Constitution. The lawsuit also claims that the ban’s terms are so vague that medical providers will be unable to know when they are permitted to provide care for patients experiencing miscarriage or to provide abortions to protect a patient’s life.

“Even though we knew this day was coming, it doesn’t change how devastating Friday’s ruling was for our providers, patients, and their loved ones,” said Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai’i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky. “In a single moment, Idahoans’ right to control their own bodies, lives, and personal medical decisions was taken away but we will not stand for it. We will never back down. We will never stop fighting.”

Planned Parenthood said in the release that the trigger law will prevent health care professionals from providing necessary medical care and will force patients to travel out of state, if they have the means, or to carry an unintended or dangerous pregnancy to term against their will.

“Without relief, the ban will disproportionately impact Idaho’s communities of color, people with low incomes, and those living in rural areas,” the release said.

Planned Parenthood also has a pending lawsuit in the Idaho Supreme Court against another Idaho abortion law modeled after a Texas law that allows civil lawsuits to be filed against medical providers who perform abortions after fetal cardiac activity can be detected by ultrasound. That lawsuit is also based on the argument that it is a violation of the privacy protections in the Idaho Constitution. The Idaho Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in that case on Aug. 3.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state. As longtime Idahoans ourselves, we understand the challenges and opportunities facing Idaho. We provide in-depth reporting on legislative and state policy, health care, tax policy, the environment, Idaho’s explosive population growth and more. Our mission is relentless investigative journalism that sheds light on how decisions in Boise and beyond are made and how they affect everyday Idahoans. We aim to tell untold stories and provide data, context and analysis on the issues that matter most throughout the state. The Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. We retain full editorial independence.