Idaho Becomes First State to Replicate Texas-Style Abortion Ban

"It is appalling that anyone could look at the chaos and harm in Texas over the past six months and think, 'I want that for the people in my state,'" said one advocate.

By Julia Conley | 15 March 2022
Common Dreams

Free Idaho: abortion rights rally in Boise to show opposition to senate bill 1309. (Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

Reproductive rights advocates are calling on Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little to veto the forced-pregnancy legislation passed by the state House on Monday, which made Idaho the first state in the country to pass a “copycat” proposal modeled on S.B. 8 in Texas.

Like S.B. 8, Idaho’s S.B. 1309 takes enforcement of the restriction out of the hands of the state and places it with ordinary citizens by allowing them to sue abortion providers who provide care after six weeks of pregnancy—before many women know they are pregnant.

Republicans pushed the legislation through in a 51-14 vote, with one lawmaker praising the Texas law as “clever” amid reports that clinics in neighboring states have been overwhelmed with Texans seeking care and that doctors have become “extremely and understandably fearful” of providing abortions in medical emergencies.

“This bill is not clever, it’s absurd,” countered state Rep. Lauren Necochea, a Democrat.

Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates called on Little to “do the right thing, listen to the medical community, and veto this legislation before it forces Idaho patients to leave the state for critical, time-sensitive care or remain pregnant against their will.”

“It is appalling that anyone could look at the chaos and harm in Texas over the past six months and think, ‘I want that for the people in my state.’ But today, anti-abortion politicians in Idaho did just that,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “This ban will inflict harm on pregnant people in Idaho if it is allowed to go into effect, and it will disproportionately impact our already underserved communities.”

“Make no mistake,” Johnson added. “Planned Parenthood will continue to provide care in Idaho, and we will continue fighting for our patients and communities. We’re not done.”

While the Texas law, which the U.S. Supreme Court allowed to go into effect in September and the state Supreme Court refused to overturn last week, allows any private citizen to sue anyone who “aids or abets” the procurement of an abortion and entitles them to $10,000 if they win their case, S.B. 1309 allows family members of a so-called “pre-born child” to sue providers. If Little signs the law, plaintiffs could win a reward of up to $20,000 for their lawsuits.

Unlike the Texas law, S.B. 1309 ostensibly allows exceptions for incest or sexual assault survivors—but requires them to file a police report before receiving abortion care.

The exceptions are “not meaningful,” Necochea said.

The state legislature “made a terrible mistake” in approving the bill, said Necochea on social media. “Only Gov. Little can reverse course. He must veto this bill.”

Last year, Little signed into law an abortion ban which outlaws care after fetal cardiac activity can be detected.

Lawmakers passed S.B. 1309 despite a warning from the Republican state attorney general, Brian Kane, that the law would “likely be found unconstitutional.”

GOP officials in several states, including Florida and Arkansas, have said they’re considering passing similar forced-pregnancy legislation.

Little has 10 days to sign S.B. 1309, and if he signs the bill it will take effect in 30 days.

Elizabeth Nash, interim associate of state issues at the Guttmacher Institute, noted that just before the legislation passed the bill, it rejected a proposal to allow people to obtain up to six months of prescription contraceptives at one time.

“If you think abortion opponents will stop at abortion, think again,” Nash said.

Idaho lawmakers pass abortion ban styled after Texas law

Idaho abortion bill heads to Governor’s desk

Abortion advocates criticize Idaho abortion ban, applaud new abortion funding in Oregon

Supreme Court Appears Poised To Overturn Roe v. Wade

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