The Idaho Constitution does not implicitly enshrine abortion as a basic right, the state Supreme Court said Thursday in dismissing a series of lawsuits by Planned Parenthood.
The ruling was a blow to those fighting Idaho laws that took effect in August, including one criminalizing all abortions after six weeks’ gestation except to save the life of a pregnant person or due to a rape or incest.
“This is a dark day for the state of Idaho. But our fight is far from over,” Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood and a family doctor have filed three lawsuits against the governor and Legislature leaders in an effort to block new abortion bans. One of the laws allows potential family members of a fetus to sue a medical professional who performs an abortion. Another made it a crime for medical professionals to perform an abortion after detecting electrical activity. And a third effectively banned all abortions but allowed doctors to defend themselves in court by proving the abortion was performed to save their patient’s life.
The Idaho Supreme Court heard arguments from all lawsuits in a joint hearing last year. Thursday’s decision applied to all three cases.
Planned Parenthood claimed the laws breached constitutional principles such as equal protection and due process, the High Court judges noted.
But the majority of justices said in the ruling that the state Constitution provides no basic right to abortion.
“Since Idaho attained statehood in 1890, this Court has repeatedly and consistently interpreted the Idaho Constitution based on the plain and plain meaning of its text,” the justices said.
If they took the leap and concluded that the document implicitly protected the right to abortion, the Constitution “would effectively be superseded by the voice of the privileged few sitting on this Court,” the justices asserted.
Idaho Supreme Court Justices Colleen Zahn and John Stegner disagreed with the majority opinion. Zahn said, “The Idaho Constitution did not freeze rights as they existed in 1890.”
“We should look to Idaho history and lore to determine the drafters’ intent, but not limit ourselves to examining these rights solely in terms of the circumstances in which they existed circa 1890,” Zahn wrote.
In her dissent, Stegner noted the impact of pregnancy on women, saying the majority opinion “deprives Idaho women of their most basic rights.”
“Idaho women have a fundamental right to abortion because pregnancy – and whether that pregnancy can be terminated – has a profound effect on pregnant women’s inalienable right to liberty, as well as their rights to life and safety,” Stegner wrote.
Idaho’s bans have increased pressure on abortion centers in neighboring Oregon, where abortion rights are protected.
In South Carolina, the state Supreme Court on Thursday overturned an abortion ban after heart activity was detected, ruling the restriction violates a state constitutional right to privacy.
The South Carolina court said the state has the power to limit the right to privacy that protects a woman from state interference in her decision, but any limitation must give a woman enough time to determine that she is pregnant and “take reasonable steps to terminate the pregnancy”. .”
The Idaho Supreme Court said his case was narrowly focused.
“All we are deciding today is that the Idaho Constitution, as it now stands, does not include a fundamental right to abortion,” Judge Robyn Brody wrote in the majority opinion.
Brody said Idaho’s new anti-abortion laws are “rationally tied to the government’s legitimate interest in protecting prenatal fetal life at all stages of development.”
The Idaho laws came about after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed the right to abortion under the US Constitution.
A narrow portion of one of Idaho’s abortion bans has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge in a separate case.
Abortion haters applauded the Idaho court ruling.
“Today is a great day for the precious unborn babies in Idaho,” said Blaine Conzatti, president of the Idaho Family Policy Center, a conservative Christian policy research and education organization.
Planned Parenthood said the court’s decision would particularly affect people who already face the greatest barriers to health care due to a legacy of racism and discrimination, including people of color, low-income people, immigrants and others.