Idaho has become the first US state to pass an abortion ban inspired by a controversial Texas law that bans abortions after about six weeks or when a heartbeat is detected.
The news comes with abortion rights under attack across the US – despite clear majority support for those rights. The conservative-dominated US Supreme Court is believed to be likely to overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling that established the right, later this year.
On Monday, Idaho House members passed the ban 51-14. No Democrats supported the legislation. The Senate has approved the bill and Republican Gov. Brad Little is expected to sign it.
Abortion rights groups called on Little to use her veto.
Planned Parenthood called the bill a copycat of the Texas bill that became law last May and was controversially left in place by the Supreme Court.
“Anti-abortion lawmakers in Idaho ignored public opinion and rushed through this legislation, seeking to capitalize on the U.S. Supreme Court’s failure to block the Texas ban,” Planned Parenthood said, adding that supporters of the bill have been open to wanting Idaho to become “the next Texas.”
Jennifer M Allen, executive director of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, an Idaho-based nonprofit, said, “It doesn’t take much to listen to the medical community and veto this legislation before it does not require Idaho patients to leave the state for critical and urgent reasons. care or remain pregnant against their will.
The Idaho bill would also allow family members to sue doctors who perform procedures after six weeks of pregnancy, before most people know they are pregnant. The bill provides a minimum reward of $20,000 plus legal fees within four years of the abortion for successful lawsuits, compared to a minimum of $10,000 and legal fees under Texas law.
Unlike the Texas law, the Idaho bill provides some exceptions in cases of rape or incest. While a rapist could not prosecute practitioners under Idaho’s new bill, family members could. Victims would have to file a police report and provide it to a doctor before they can benefit from the procedure.
“This bill isn’t smart, it’s nonsense,” Democratic Rep. Lauren Necochea said, adding that the rape and incest exemptions were “not meaningful.”
Last year, Little signed a ‘heartbeat’ bill into law, but it included a ‘trigger provision’ that prevented it from being in effect until a federal court approved it, which which did not happen.
Several Republican-led states have taken steps to restrict abortion rights. Among them are bills in Missouri that would allow for prosecution of those who help someone cross state lines to get an abortion. Terminating an unviable pregnancy would be a criminal offence.
The Oklahoma Senate recently passed six anti-abortion measures, including a copy of the Texas ban. In February, the Arizona Senate passed an abortion ban that would bar the procedure after 15 weeks, similar to the law passed in Mississippi, which is expected to lead the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade.