IDAHO, USA — The Idaho Supreme Court has upheld a near-total abortion ban in the state with few exceptions; when the pregnancy threatens the life of a mother or in cases of rape or incest proven by law.
Justice John Stegner and Justice Colleen Zahn dissented the 3-2 decision; the majority opinion was written by Justice Robyn Brody. In regard to the petitions brought by Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, and Caitlin Gustafson, M.D., on behalf of herself and her patients, Justice Brody stated that, "The Idaho Constitution does not contain an explicit right to abortion."
Further, that the courts duty is to uphold the will of the law, not to promote personal preferences and that there is no "deeply rooted" historical right to an abortion throughout the state's history.
"To the contrary, the relevant history and traditions of Idaho show abortion was viewed as an immoral act and treated as a crime. Thus, we cannot conclude the framers and adopters of the Inalienable Rights Clause intended to implicitly protect abortion as a fundamental right," stated a summary of the majority opinion.
However, the summary of the opinion also states that the decision made by the court at this time does not keep the voters of Idaho from taking the matter of abortion up at the polls.
"For example, if the people of Idaho are dissatisfied with these new laws, they can elect new legislators. Additionally, the Idaho Constitution is not immutable. Indeed, a review of the session laws of this State reveals that the people of Idaho have amended the Idaho Constitution 135 times since 1889—and many of these amendments span the political spectrum," the opinion summary states.
The summary also "emphasized" that the decision made was only in regards within the parameters of the Idaho Constitution as it currently stands.
In a statement from Planned Parenthood, it states that the decision made by the court will disproportionately affects minority populations and that in the six months that the ban has been in place, the people of Idaho have seen "devastating impacts."
In the dissenting opinions, Justice Stegner and Justice Zahn state they do not believe the laws are narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling state interest.
“This is a dark day for the state of Idaho, but our fight is far from over,” said Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai‘i, Indiana, Kentucky. “Planned Parenthood will never back down. We will keep fighting with everything we’ve got to restore Idahoans’ right to control our bodies and our lives. No matter what happens, Planned Parenthood is here for you. Our doors are open in Idaho, and our teams are ready to help you get the care you need, even if that means traveling out of state.”
Additionally, in a press release, the Idaho Democratic Party stated that it believes "patients, not judges or politicians, should make their own personal decisions when it comes to medical care."
“Idaho’s extreme abortion ban, passed by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Gov. Little endangers the lives of pregnant Idahoans and undermines the duty hospitals have to treat and stabilize sick patients. These Republican politicians have made it clear in their party platform they would rather let a pregnancy kill a person than allow them to receive an abortion," the release states.
Idaho Republican Party Chairwoman Dorothy Moon commended the Supreme Courts decision.
"The Idaho Supreme Court followed the basic cannons of constitutional interpretation and found that our constitution does not include an implied right to abort the unborn," Moon wrote in a press release. "We applaud this decision and, more importantly, the reasoning that undergirds it. Our fight is not over, however. We ask all Idahoans to remain vigilant and committed to defending life."
In addition to the ban on abortion, the court decision also upholds the civil enforcement of the Heartbeat Bill that allows family members to sue any medical providers that perform an abortion for up to $20,000.
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