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Idaho Would Like To Bounty Up Some Abortion Doctors Too Please!
Things are getting out of hand.
Idaho's state legislature continues the state's ongoing bid to prove it can be every bit as rightwing and authoritarian as Texas or Florida. Yesterday, the state House passed Idaho's version of a Texas-style abortion law, which would ban all abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable (around six weeks after a woman's last period, usually ) and would be enforced by allowing family members of the fetus to sue the doctor who performed the abortion. The state Senate passed the bill, Senate Bill 1309 , on March 3; it now goes to Gov. Brad Little, who has previously supported legislation to restrict abortion, but has so far not said what he thinks about Idaho doing a Texas-style ban.
Last year Little signed a similar six-week "heartbeat" abortion ban that didn't include the Texas-y lawsuit enforcement mechanism; that law includes a "trigger" provision that would make it take effect as soon as any federal appellate court approves similar legislation. If Little decides to sign SB 1309 and invite an assload of lawsuits, it could go into effect as early as April, a few months before the Supreme Court is likely to gut Roe v. Wade. Idaho lawmakers considered the inability of people to sue doctors who perform abortions an "emergency," so the law would go into effect 30 days after it's signed. We can't imagine Little vetoing it, since he's being primaried in May by wingnut crazy person Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who would surely benefit from the perception that Little was weak on protecting the precious precious babies before they're born and become burdens on the taxpayer.
There are some differences between the Texas bill and Idaho's. Where Texas would allow anyone to sue nearly anyone involved in the provision of an abortion — the Uber driver who drove a woman to a clinic, a parent who paid for an abortion, and so on — Idaho will only allow lawsuits against the doctors who perform surgical abortions or who prescribe medication for an abortion (medical abortions are already tightly regulated in Idaho, too). And instead of allowing lawsuits from any member of the public, Idaho would only allow lawsuits to be filed by certain family members of the "preborn child," like the woman who gets the abortion, or the fetus's father, siblings, grandparents, aunt, or uncle.
Both states prohibit lawsuits against the woman who has an abortion, at least until the Republic of Gilead has come to power.
Where Texas allows a minimum bounty of $10,000 from everyone involved in an abortion, Idaho sort of compensates for not being able to sue the barista at the coffee shop across from a clinic by upping the minimum damages to $20,000 from the doctor. So Texas is definitely the better deal for folks filing multiple nuisance lawsuits.
And where Texas has no exceptions for rape or incest, Idaho does, but only if the crime was reported to police and the person seeking the abortion provides a copy of the police report. Even that provision angered some Republican lawmakers, who considered it insufficiently protective of fetuses. The Idaho bill also allows an exception to prevent the woman's death or serious injury.
In House debate Monday, state Rep. Steven Harris (R), one of the bill's House co-sponsors, praised the Texas bill, saying that state's "clever, private course of action did good. [...] It stopped physical abortions, chemical abortions in their tracks.”
As for worries that the law was unconstitutional, Harris pointed out that the Texas law has "already made two visits to the Supreme Court" without being enjoined, although he sort of left out that neither of those rulings addressed the constitutionality of the law.
Oh, yes, and about that exception for rape or incest: While the bill prohibits lawsuits by an accused rapist, state Rep. Lauren Necochea (D) asked Harris whether siblings or other close family members of a rapist would be able to sue instead. Harris said they could, prompting Necochea to say that in that case, the exceptions were "not meaningful," and that the bill is "not clever, it's absurd."
Harris was nearly ecstatic about all the "good" the bill would do, exclaiming that testimony in committee hearings and in House debate made clear that the bill "will end many abortions in Idaho." Urging his colleagues to pass the bill, he exclaimed, "Let's save some babies!"
The House version of the bill passed by a wide margin, 51 to 14, although the Idaho Capital Sun notes that some Republican lawmakers voted against it because it only bans abortion after six weeks, not at the moment an egg is fertilized. If it's any comfort to them, the bill does include a statement clarifying that while detection of a fetal heartbeat is the standard for its abortion restrictions, "Nothing in this section recognizes a right to abortion before a fetal heartbeat is detected" either, so it's not loose on doctrine.
Should the Supreme Court actually reverse Roe in June, we have little doubt that Idaho will quickly move to outlaw any sexual activity that does not result in pregnancy, or perhaps, as a compromise, to simply follow another recent Texas legislative example by introducing legislation to impose the death penalty for women seeking abortions and physicians who perform them. So far, several such bills have been introduced in Texas over the years, but none has made it out of committee.
Perhaps the solution there is to allow citizens to vote by proxy on behalf of all fetuses who have ever been aborted since Roe . Give it time; Republicans will get there.
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