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Idaho Supreme Court puts a stay on new abortion law

Senate Bill 1309, the "heartbeat abortion" ban was set to take effect April 22. The court on Friday gave both sides more time to prepare for arguments.

BOISE, Idaho — The new Idaho law prohibiting an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected is on hold, under an order the Idaho Supreme Court issued Friday.

The court issued a stay on implementation of Senate Bill 1309 to give lawyers for the State of Idaho and for those challenging the law to prepare briefs for expected arguments.

SB 1309 would allow some family members to sue an abortion provider for no less than $20,000 in civil damages in cases where an abortion is performed or attempted after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy. 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 Friday 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.

"We are thrilled that abortion will remain accessible in the state for now, but our fight to ensure that Idahoans can fully access their constitutionally protected rights is far from over. Anti-abortion lawmakers have made clear that they will stop at nothing to control our lies, our bodies, and our futures," said Rebecca Gibron, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai'i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky. "We look forward to our day in court."

Senate Bill 1309 is blocked from taking effect until after the court rules on Planned Parenthood's lawsuit.

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