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Court lifts stay on Heartbeat Law enforcement

The Idaho State Supreme Court on Aug. 12 lifted a stay on the enforcement of the civil provisions of the Heartbeat Law, passed by the Idaho Legislature and signed by Gov. Brad Little earlier this year. The law forbids abortions after a baby’s heartbeat is detected, except for certain exceptions as specified in the law.

Legal challenges to the law forced a temporary stay on the law’s enforcement, but the Supreme Court, in its 3-2 ruling, said the civil penalties against an abortion provider are effective immediately. Further, the court said a stay on the criminal provisions will be lifted this Friday, Aug. 19.

“I could not be more excited about the news from Idaho’s Supreme Court,” said Christian Welp, legislative liaison for the Diocese of Boise. “For the first time since 1973, most abortions will not take place in Idaho.”

Over the weekend, the Meridian and Twin Falls Planned Parenthood clinics updated their websites to explain that most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy – the point at which a preborn baby’s heartbeat can be detected – will no longer be available in Idaho

The civil enforcement of the law, which the court lifted immediately upon its ruling, says that any doctor who performs an abortion after six weeks, unless for exceptions marked out in the law, is liable to a civil lawsuit.

However, this win for unborn children does not mean the battle is over. The court’s ruling determined only whether Idaho’s abortion laws would take effect while lawsuits against them, from both Planned Parenthood and from the U.S. Department of Justice, move forward. Arguments for the lawsuits on their merits are scheduled for late September.

“However, the final piece of this exciting news is that the court stated that Planned Parenthood is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its lawsuit against the Heartbeat Law,” Welp said. In its decision, Idaho Supreme Court justices argued that the Dobbs v. Jackson decision that overturned Roe and Casey, “altered the landscape” around abortion by returning decisions to the states. The court said it declined to implement the pause on the abortion ban because Planned Parenthood’s lawyers didn’t demonstrate a substantial likelihood that their argument would be successful.

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