Update on Idaho Lawsuit

If you recall from earlier this month, a woman named Jennie McCormack sued the state of Idaho to block two laws from being enforced. One was a law banning self-provided abortions and the other banning all abortions past 20 weeks based on supposed fetal pain. This was because she self-provided an abortion to herself using RU-486 (the abortion pill). She was initially charged for breaking the first of these laws but a judge dismissed the case per lack of evidence. In order to ensure charges would not be brought against her in the future, she sought to block both the “self abortion” ban and the 20 week ban.

On September 23rd a judge decided on her case and issued a temporary injunction against the “self abortion” ban. The issuing judge said that he feels McCormack’s case has merit and she will likely be able to prove this law is unconstitutional because poses a barrier to her right to access abortion. The injunction is technically limited to only prosecutors in the count McCormack is from, but according to her lawyer it effectively limits all prosecutors in the state from pressing charges based on this law. According to the prosecutor assigned to this case, that law had never been used prior to McCormack’s arrest.

This is a big victory as it opens up accessibility to abortions. A doctor could set up a telemedicine system for abortions or possibly a nurse practitioner could set up practice. In a state with as few abortion providers as Idaho, anything that allows for greater accessibility is a huge win.

Unfortunately, the judge decided against an injunction for the fetal pain law saying that because she is no longer pregnant the law poses no threat to her and so she has no grounds to pursue a claim against it. On the one hand, I suppose that makes sense. Though McCormack was past 20 weeks at the time of her abortion, the fetal pain law was not in effect at that time so it cannot be retroactively applied to her. The law itself is based on biased research findings that have been shown to be inaccurate, so her lawyer has stated that he will try and show that she does have claim against this law to try and get a block against it issued at a later time.

The temporary injunction will last for 14-days as McCormack’s case proceeds into the full trial.


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