The Idaho legislature just made the western state the first in the nation to pass a Texas-style law banning abortions on unborn babies with beating hearts.
The Idaho House passed the law today, after the state Senate had already given the measure its approval and will now head to the governor for his signature.
Idaho already has a law in place that will ban abortions once Roe v. Wade is overturned. The state legislature also passed a heartbeat law in 2021 that prohibits abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, but, because of current court precedent, it is not in effect either.
Until the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, neither of those abortion bans can be in force. Now, just in case the nation’s highest court doesn’t reverse the infamous decision this summer, Idaho lawmakers want to pass a Texas-style bill to ban abortions once a heartbeat is detected and to have a private enforcement mechanism.
The Idaho Senate voted 28-6 to approve the bill, which bans aboritons starting at six weeks when the heartbeat of an unborn baby can be detected.The House voted 51-14 for the measure.
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If the bill becomes law, Idaho could be the first state to adopt a similar law and the legislature is expected to pass the measure and Governor Brad Little is expected to sign it. He signed the prior heartbeat ban but hasn’t yet committed to this one.
“Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to halt the slaughter of the unborn in Idaho,” said Idaho state Sen. C. Scott Grow (R). “No matter the outcome of the Mississippi challenge, between now and the time of that Supreme Court decision, this Idaho bill will potentially deter the abortion of hundreds.”
Planned Parenthood, Americas biggest abortion company, opposed the measure – which would go into effect 30 days after becoming law. It said it would not do aboritons after 6 weeks if the bill becomes law.
Earlier this month, a spokesperson for Little declined to comment on whether he would sign the bill, saying the office does not comment on pending legislation, but recently reiterated to the Idaho Spokesman Review his opposition toward abortion in general.
Sponsors said during debate that the Texas law has not been blocked by either federal or state courts.
“The Supreme Court has had several opportunities to block enforcement of similar laws in Texas, which they have not done three different times,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Patti Ann Lodge.
The Idaho bill is more limited in the lawsuits that can be filed, according to local reports.
“In Texas, anyone can sue for damages. Idaho’s bill allows only the individual or family to sue — meaning the person who received an abortion, their parents, their other children, their siblings or in-laws and whoever helped conceive the fetus. Under SB 1309, only the doctor who provided the abortion can be sued. Texas’ law held liable anyone who “aided or abetted” the provision of an abortion: someone who helped pay for the procedure or who gave a friend a ride to the clinic, for instance,” one report indicated.
New reports show as many as 17,000 babies have been saved from abortions in Texas.
The unique private enforcement mechanism in the Texas law is the reason why the courts have allowed the law to stay in effect for the past four months, saving thousands of unborn babies’ lives. Though the court battle over the Texas law is not over, pro-lifers in Idaho and other states hope that by passing similar pro-life laws with private enforcement mechanisms that they, too, will save unborn babies from abortion while Roe v. Wade remains.
Since Roe in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court has prohibited states from banning abortions before an unborn baby is viable. As a result, about 63 million unborn babies have been killed in abortions in the U.S.
Last year, however, the Supreme Court gave pro-life advocates new hope when it refused twice to block enforcement of the Texas law. As a result, Texas is the first state to be allowed to enforce a pre-viability abortion ban in nearly five decades.
In December, the justices also heard a direct challenge to Roe from Mississippi in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health. The Supreme Court likely will not publish its ruling on the case until June.
Both cases have renewed hope in the pro-life movement that states will be allowed to protect unborn babies from abortions again soon. Lawmakers in Idaho and many other states already have filed legislation this year to do just that, and more pro-life bills are expected when state legislatures convene again in the new year.
The Guttmacher Institute estimates 26 states “are certain or likely to ban abortions” if the Supreme Court gets rid of Roe. And researchers estimated that abortion numbers would drop by about 120,000 in the first year and potentially even more in subsequent years if the high court allows states to ban abortions again.