By Nate Raymond
(Reuters) – Idaho’s top court on Friday temporarily blocked a recently enacted six-week abortion ban from taking effect which is modeled on a Texas law that allows private citizens to sue abortion providers.
The Idaho Supreme Court in a two-page order https://tmsnrt.rs/3upiqzO prevented the law from being implemented until the court could hear a challenge by Planned Parenthood seeking to invalidate the measure, which was to take effect on April 22.
Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, which operates three abortion clinics in the state, last week asked the court to declare it unconstitutional after Republican Governor Brad Little signed it into law.
Idaho was the first state to adopt a law that mirrored the one in Texas which took effect in September. That law allows citizens to sue anyone who performs or assists a woman in obtaining an abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy.
The Idaho law is narrower than Texas’s, allowing only relatives of a fetus, not any citizen, to sue medical professionals who provide abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy.
The law, SB 1309, provides a minimum award of $20,000 and legal fees for litigants.
Like the Texas law, it bars state officials from enforcing it, a novel feature that has frustrated opponents trying to challenge the Texas measure in federal court by suing state officials to bar enforcement.
Planned Parenthood argues the Idaho law is unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal nationwide.
The U.S. Supreme Court now has a 6-3 conservative majority and appeared open during arguments in December to rolling back or overturning Roe v. Wade by allowing a 15-week abortion ban to stand in Mississippi.
Planned Parenthood and Little’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; editing by Jason Neely)