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Governor Questions Legality as He Signs Texas-Like Abortion Law

Little says he expects Idaho measure to be ruled unconstitutional
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2022 12:40 AM CDT
Updated Mar 23, 2022 4:59 PM CDT
Idaho Passes Texas-Style Abortion Ban
The Idaho House of Representative voted to approve a Texas-styled bill banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy by allowing potential family members to sue a doctor who performs one, on Monday, March 14, 2022, at the Statehouse in Boise, Idaho.   (AP Photo/Keith Ridler)

Update: Idaho's governor has signed anti-abortion legislation modeled after the law in Texas. Republican Gov. Brad Little noted his reservations about the legality of the measure even as he approved it. "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," Little wrote in a letter to the state's lieutenant governor, the AP reports. An opponent, Democratic Rep. Lauren Necochea, said: "The vigilante aspect of this bill is absurd. Its impacts are cruel, and it is blatantly unconstitutional." The measure takes effect in 30 days, barring court challenges. Our story from last week follows:

The first copycat of Texas' abortion ban is here. On Monday, the Republican-led Idaho House approved, in a 51-14 vote, a law enabling certain civilians to sue any person who "aids or abets" a woman getting an abortion after fetal cardiac activity has been detected, the New York Times reports. That could mean a doctor, or even the person driving the woman to the clinic. The "heartbeat bill" allows relatives of what it refers to as the "preborn child" to sue for up to four years after the procedure, and provides $20,000, plus legal fees, for successful suits. To anyone arguing the bill is unconstitutional, its co-sponsor says, "Texas has already made two visits to the Supreme Court. [And] abortions are still being stopped in Texas."

Unlike in Texas, exceptions are allowed in cases of rape or incest, but only if the woman has filed a police report and provided it to the provider before obtaining an abortion. The state Senate had already passed the bill, which has now been sent to Republican Gov. Brad Little—who is anti-abortion, and who last year signed a different "heartbeat bill." That one, however, was an outright ban, and included a trigger provision requiring a favorable federal court ruling somewhere in the US before it takes effect—which hasn't happened yet, the AP reports. So-called "heartbeat bills" aim to ban abortion after around 6 weeks of pregnancy, at which point many women don't yet realize they're pregnant. (More Idaho stories.)

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