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Idaho Supreme Court will decide if Planned Parenthood's lawsuits can pause trigger law

A hearing will take place Aug. 3 to determine if the trigger ban will be put on hold while the lawsuits are pending.

BOISE, Idaho — Oral arguments regarding the merits of Planned Parenthood's pro-choice lawsuits have been vacated, and the Idaho Supreme Court will now hear arguments on whether to pause Idaho's trigger law until the lawsuits are resolved, according to court documents.

Arguments on Senate Bill 1309, modeled after a Texas law providing for private lawsuits over prohibited abortions, were set for Aug. 3. That hearing was set before Planned Parenthood filed another lawsuit, this time over a law the Idaho Legislature passed in 2020, referred to as a "trigger law."

This law would make it a felony for a medical provider to perform an abortion unless it's shown in court that the abortion was necessary to save a pregnant woman's life or that the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest and the survivor filed a police report.

An order setting hearing for Aug. 3, filed on Thursday, scheduled Planned Parenthood's two lawsuits: one filed against the Idaho legislature and one filed against the State of Idaho itself. The hearing will take place 15 days before the trigger ban is supposed to take effect.

The court will not hear arguments on the law, but how both hearings will proceed in the legal system.

The order says the court will only hear arguments based on three issues: whether the court should grant a pause on Idaho's abortion trigger law while the lawsuit is being resolved, whether the clinic's second lawsuit should be consolidated with their first lawsuit and whether the case should be transferred from the Idaho Supreme Court to district court for "development of a factual record and potential motion practice." 

The court will also hear arguments if the stay put in place for the first lawsuit should be lifted.

The state has objected to the pause of the trigger law as well as a motion to expedite the briefing.

Planned Parenthood's first lawsuit filed in March against the Idaho State Legislature addressed the passage of SB 1309, the trigger law making performing an abortion a felony. The trigger ban was set to become law after the overturn of Roe v. Wade, which occurred on June 24.

Both lawsuits say the trigger law is unconstitutional under the Idaho Constitution. Planned Parenthood claims it violates a person's right to make private familial decisions, that the terms in the law are vague and that it poses a health risk.

When the Attorney General's Office responded to Planned Parenthood's motion to expedite the briefing, they stated that abortion is not specifically mentioned in the Idaho Constitution.

In the response, the state urged the court to deny even hearing the case as well as the request to expedite because "the proceedings are not ripe," meaning there is no reason to expedite since Idaho's 30-day abortion ban countdown has not gone into effect yet. 

"The remedy sought by petitioners should be sought in the legislature or the ballot box," the response said, signed by Deputy Attorney Dayton P. Reed.  

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