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Catholic church not allowed to intervene in Idaho abortion lawsuit

The Idaho Supreme Court has rejected the Idaho Catholic Church's request to intervene in a lawsuit over a new state law banning nearly all abortions.

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Supreme Court has rejected a request by the Roman Catholic Church in Idaho to intervene in a lawsuit over a new state law banning nearly all abortions. 

The court did not explain Wednesday why the church was excluded after the Diocese of Boise on Monday asked to be allowed to to join the lawsuit.

Last month, Idaho became the first state to enact legislation modeled after the Texas statute banning abortions after about six weeks. The law would allow potential relatives of the embryo or fetus to each sue an abortion provider for a minimum of $20,000 in damages.

Rapists can’t file a lawsuit under the law, but a rapist’s relatives could. Planned Parenthood sued over the law, calling it unconstitutional.

On April 8, the Idaho Supreme Court issued a stay on implementation of Senate Bill 1309 -- the new law banning nearly all abortions -- to give lawyers for the State of Idaho and for those challenging the law to prepare briefs for expected arguments.

Gov. Brad Little signed the legislation on March 23, but in his transmittal letter to the Legislature, he said he believed the civil enforcement mechanism "will in short order be proven both unconstitutional and unwise."

A lawsuit filed March 30 on behalf of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest and a Valley County doctor asked the Idaho Supreme Court to review the law before April 22, when it was scheduled to take effect. The state filed a motion asking the court to reconsider an order to expedite the case, and allow more time. Planned Parenthood agreed to allow more time if the court blocked implementation of the law pending further court action.

The court on April 8 issued that stay. The court also set a deadline of April 28 for the state to submit its brief to the court, and ordered Planned Parenthood to file a reply brief no later than 14 days after the state submits its brief. That means the court will likely not hear oral arguments until the middle of May, at the earliest.

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