Idaho Is Set to Enact Texas-Style Abortion Ban

Under this bill, a rapist’s family could sue over an abortion caused by rape.
A procedure room at the Planned Parenthood in Meridian, Idaho.
A procedure room at the Planned Parenthood in Meridian, Idaho. (Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman / Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Idaho’s governor has signed into law a bill modeled after the severe Texas abortion ban, making the state the first in the nation to follow this far in Texas’ footsteps.

The bill, like the Texas ban, would let individuals sue over abortions. If the Idaho legislation isn’t stopped by a court challenge, it will take effect in 30 days and make nearly all abortions illegal as early as six weeks into pregnancy. 

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“This bill is blatantly unconstitutional, and we are committed to going to every length and exploring all our options to restore Idahoans’ right to abortion,” Rebecca Gibron, interim CEO for Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaiʻi, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, said in a statement. That group operates Idaho’s only three abortion clinics.

In the six-plus months since the Texas bill took effect, access to legal abortion has essentially evaporated across the state. The month after the ban took effect, abortions in clinics dropped by almost 60 percent. Demand for at-home abortion pills, meanwhile, skyrocketed.

The Idaho bill isn’t an exact copy of the Texas version. In Texas, total strangers may sue people whom they suspect of having helped carry out an illegal abortion. But the Idaho bill’s legal blast radius is, in some respects, narrower. If sued, “medical professionals” could be forced to pay out no less than $20,000. (Texas set the floor for damages at $10,000.) And, under this bill, the people who can sue those professionals are the abortion patient and a grandparent, father, sibling, aunt, or uncle of “the preborn child.”

Someone who impregnates a person through rape or incest cannot sue. But a rapist’s relatives may be able to do so, as supporters of the bill confirmed in the state legislature.

Erin Berry, who provides abortions in Idaho and serves as Planned Parenthood’s Washington state medical director, told VICE News earlier this month that she has treated abortion patients who fled Texas. Someone who is six weeks pregnant really would only have been able to confirm the pregnancy at most two weeks prior, she said. 

“Two weeks—it’s just not enough time for most people to make a decision, even though they’re pregnant, get time off work or get child care, and find an appointment,” Berry said. “With COVID, the whole healthcare system has been gravely impacted. We’re all facing staffing shortages and therefore wait times for appointments, across the healthcare spectrum, are longer.”

Idaho isn’t the only state that’s pursued a Texas-style abortion ban. On Tuesday, the Oklahoma state House of Representatives passed a similar bill that would go even further than either the Texas or Idaho law; under that law, doctors could be sued for performing abortions at any stage in pregnancy, except in the event that it would save a woman’s life.