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With abortion ban, Idaho is following in Texas’ footsteps

Chief Justice John Roberts warned Texas’ abortion ban could serve as “a model for action in other areas.” That’s precisely what’s happening.


It’s been nearly seven months since five Republican-appointed U.S. Supreme Court justices gave the green light to Texas’ abortion ban, effectively ending Roe v. Wade protections in the nation’s second largest state. In a dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts warned that the state law could serve as “a model for action in other areas.”

On this, Roberts was correct. NBC News reported:

The Idaho Legislature approved a bill to ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy Monday, making it the first state to pass legislation similar to a Texas law that is the most restrictive in the country. The state House passed the Republican-backed measure in a 51-14 vote; the Senate passed it earlier this month.

In case anyone needs a refresher, what made Texas’ system so unusual was the extent to which Republican policymakers effectively created a vigilante system: If some random person learns that a Texan had an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy — before many women even know they’re pregnant — he could file suit against the physician who performed the procedure. And the nurse who was in the room. And the friend who drove the woman to the health clinic. And the family member who gave the woman some money to help pay for the trip.

According to the Lone Star State’s abortion ban, a random person, effectively deputized by Texas Republicans, could sue any of these people for $10,000 — plus attorneys’ fees — turning anti-abortion activists into bounty hunters.

Idaho’s measure is similar — it’s built on the vigilante system chassis — but not identical. NBC News’ report added: “[I]t would allow the potential father, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles of a ‘preborn child’ to sue an abortion provider for a minimum of $20,000 in damages within four years of an abortion.”

Under this approach, bounty hunters could not, however, sue someone who drove a woman to the clinic to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

What’s more, Idaho’s abortion ban makes exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest, while Texas’ law does not. (Idaho women would be required to file a police report as proof that her pregnancy was the result of a rape.)

Brad Little, Idaho’s Republican governor, is expected to sign the bill into law.

In the meantime, those involved in the debate over reproductive rights are awaiting word from the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to rule in the coming months on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. Assuming the Republican-appointed justices side with the state, the floodgates are expected to open immediately thereafter.

A Washington Post report added, “Republican lawmakers in at least 12 states have introduced bills modeled after the Texas ban.”