First-Ever Legal Challenge to Fetal Pain Law in ID

In Idaho, Jennie Linn McCormack filed the first-ever lawsuit in the country challenging the state’s “fetal pain” law, which bans abortions in the state after 20 weeks gestation.  McComark, noting the lack of accessible abortion providers for women in southeast Idaho, contends that Idaho’s law unconstitutionally restricts women in the region from accessing abortion services. McCormack seeks class-action status for her case against Bannock County, Idaho’s prosecuting attorney, Mark Hiedman.

In January, McCormack was charged with a felony for obtaining an illegal abortion after she used pills to terminate her pregnancy. The case was, however, dismissed due to a lack of evidence. Janet Crepps, director of the US legal program at the Center for Reproductive Rights, stated, “When you think about all the regulations that are piled onto abortion, it just clearly becomes impossible for doctors to provide them and women to receive them in a situation like McCormack’s. It’s a really sad situation.”

The American College of Gynecology refutes assertions that fetuses can feel pain at 20 week, stating that there is “no legitimate evidence that fetuses can experience pain.” Idaho is one of six states – Nebraska, Kansas, Alabama, Indiana, and Oklahoma – with “fetal pain” laws. The Idaho law is modeled on a Nebraska law, signed in April 2010, which outlaws abortion after 20 weeks. These laws directly challenge the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which allows women to obtain abortion services until fetal viability at 22-24 weeks

Huffington Post 9/1/11; Idaho Statesman 8/31/11; Reuters 8/31/11

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