Abortion bans based on “fetal pain” are highly controversial, but until now, no one is believed to have filed a lawsuit challenging their constitutionality. Jennie Linn McCormack of Idaho became the first when she filed suit against her state’s new law, which bans abortions after the 20-week mark on the premise that is the point at which fetuses begin to feel pain. McCormack was charged with having an illegal abortion after taking pills to terminate her five- to six-month pregnancy last year. A judge later dismissed the case, but the prosecutor could refile charges against her, the AP reports.
McCormack wants class-action status for her suit, which also challenges the lack of abortion providers in her region. In Idaho, women who purposely cause their own abortions face prison time and hefty fines, because the law requires them to get an abortion only from a licensed physician in the state. McCormack’s suit argues that unfairly burdens women like her who have no abortion providers nearby. Her suit also argues that the 20-week fetal pain abortion ban is unconstitutional because it does not allow exceptions for mothers whose health is in danger, and because it bans some abortions before a fetus is viable at 22 to 23 weeks. (Read more fetal pain stories.)