Idaho Legislature Passes Ban on Abortions After 6 Weeks of Pregnancy, a 'Copycat' of Texas Law

The bill also allows the father, sibling, grandparent, aunt or uncle of the fetus to sue a medical provider who grants an abortion after six weeks

Texas abortion law
Pro-choice and anti-abortion protestors face off outside the Supreme Court. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty

Idaho's legislature approved a bill that would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before many women are aware they're pregnant, a "copycat" of Texas' previous ban.

The bill, which the GOP-led legislature called the "Fetal Heartbeat, Preborn Child Protection Act," passed in Idaho's state Senate earlier this month and on Monday moved through the House by a vote of 51-14. It will now go to Republican Gov. Brad Little, who has previously approved similar abortion restrictions but has not commented on this bill, for the final sign-off.

The bill is modeled off of Texas' ban on abortions after six weeks, when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, with exceptions for medical emergencies, rape or incest. While it has a similar setup to Texas' law, which allows any citizen to act as a whistleblower and sue anyone who helps facilitate an abortion — down to an Uber driver who drives them to the appointment — Idaho has limited the ability to sue to just the abortion provider, and only the father, sibling, grandparent, aunt or uncle of the fetus can sue.

They are able to bring the lawsuit for up to four years after the abortion, and anyone who successfully sues earns $20,000.

Idaho State Rep. Barbara Ehardt, a Republican who co-sponsored the legislation, claimed that "the Supreme Court in 1973 did something that was never allowed in the first place" with the passage of Roe v. Wade, and that "abortion is not a constitutional right," the Washington Post reported.

Another co-sponsor, Republican Rep. Steven Harris, called Texas' bill "clever" as he argued for Idaho's version.

In response, Democratic Rep. Lauren Necochea said that "this bill is not clever, it's absurd."

"Its impacts are cruel and it is blatantly unconstitutional," she said.

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Planned Parenthood called the bill a "copycat" ban and also emphasized that it violates the right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade.

"Idaho's anti-abortion lawmakers ignored public opinion and rushed through this legislation, looking to capitalize on the U.S. Supreme Court's failure to block Texas's ban," the health care non-profit said in a statement. "The reality is that some pregnant people in Idaho will be forced to carry unwanted or dangerous pregnancies to term against their will."

If Little signs the bill into law, it could take effect as early as April. The ban is expected to be challenged in court, however Texas' near-identical ban has been able to withstand multiple lawsuits against it so far.

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