Idaho Gov Signs 'Unwise,' 'Unconstitutional' Abortion Ban That 'Weakens Our Liberties' For ... Freedom?
Idaho Gov. Brad Little. US Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Becky Vanshur.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed into law the state's version of Texas's six-week "bounty" ban on abortions Wednesday, although he did so with a signing statement that sure sounded like some excellent reasons to veto the thing.

Like the Texas law, the Idaho one attempts to avoid being overruled in court by leaving enforcement up to citizen lawsuits instead of the state, so there's no state officials to sue. But where the Texas law allows anyone to sue anyone involved in an abortion, from doctors and nurses to Uber drivers who take someone to a clinic, the Idaho law only allows lawsuits against doctors who perform the procedure, and the suits can only be brought by a family member of one of the fetus's "parents." Judgments in such lawsuits would pay minimum damages of $20,000 from the doctor.


That's where the law made Little a little hesitant, though not hesitant enough to actually veto it. Unlike the Texas law, the bill allows an exception for victims of rape or incest, as long as they file a police report. The bill also prohibits a rapist from suing a doctor who performs an abortion for the rapist's victim, but leaves open the possibility that the rapist's siblings, parents, or an aunt or uncle could sue, essentially allowing them to profit off the rape.

The bill amends last year's "fetal heartbeat bill," which also banned abortion at six weeks, but would only go into effect once the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade. Instead, the new law will go into effect 30 days after it's signed, so it'll be active before the Court's upcoming decision on Mississippi's abortion bill. The Idaho Attorney General's office has already issued an opinion saying that, since the bill effectively bans all abortions, it's unconstitutional.

In a letter transmitting the signed bill to Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, Little said he loves the idea of punishing doctors for providing healthcare to women, but wants the state legislature to fix the bill up some so it will pass legal muster:

While I support the pro-life policy in this legislation, I fear the novel civil enforcement mechanism will in short order be proven both unconstitutional and unwise.

Deputizing private citizens to levy hefty monetary fines on the exercise of a disfavored but judicially recognized constitutional right for the purpose of evading court review undermines our constitutional form of government and weakens our collective liberties.

Little fretted that the enforcement mechanism set a bad precedent, because what's to stop those goldurn liberals in "California, New York, and other states hostile to the First and Second Amendments" from closing the churches and taking all the guns, huh?

While he appreciated the effort to include an exception for rape and incest, Little said the requirement that victims provide a police report in order to get an abortion might be onerous for "those vulnerable women and children who lack the capacity or familial support to report incest and sexual assault." In addition, there's that whole bit where rapists' families could make bank by suing a doctor: "Ultimately, this legislation risks re-traumatizing victims by affording monetary incentivizes [sic] to wrongdoers and family members of rapists."

We just want to state again that this what Little said about a bill that he signed into law.

But he had to sign it, both because of his commitment to protecting the Sanctity of Life for those little "pre-born babies," and because McGeachin is running to unseat him in May's Republican primary, and if he vetoed an abortion bill simply because it "violates" the "Constitution," his poll numbers with the party faithful would go straight into the dumpster like a terrified teenager's unwanted newborn on prom night.

Little's signing of the bill was met with predictable opposition from those crazies who think people with uteruses may have more rights than an embryo. It was immediately condemned by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Planned Parenthood announced it would keep its Idaho clinics open, and is looking at a legal challenge to the Idaho law.

“This law is unconstitutional, dangerous and an assault on the hundreds of thousands of Idahoans of reproductive age,” said Jennifer M. Allen, the chief executive of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates. “There is no excuse or justification for the trauma and harm this law will cause.”

Then again, causing harm and trauma to anyone seeking an abortion is the point, because only a monster would think she has a right to control her own body.

[Idaho Statesman / NYT]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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