he Republican-dominated Idaho House passed legislation on Monday which would ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy when a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The bill, called Senate Bill 1309 or the “Fetal Heartbeat, Preborn Child Protection Act,” passed in a  51-14 vote and is set to cross Gov. Brad Little’s (R) desk, CNN reported. The law would allow the father, sibling, grandparent, aunt, or uncle of the unborn baby to sue the medical professional who performed the abortion.


“The life of each human being begins at fertilization, and unborn preborn children have interests in life, health, and well-being that should be protected,” the bill reads:

Therefore, the state of Idaho has a compelling interest in protecting the life of a preborn child at all stages of its development, including after the preborn child has a detectable heartbeat, which signals rhythmically and without pause the presence of a precious and unique life, one that is independent and distinct from the mother’s and one that is also worthy of our utmost protection.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little delivers his State of the State address inside the house chambers at the state Capitol building, Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

Idaho Gov. Brad Little delivers his State of the State address inside the house chambers at the state Capitol building, Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

The law’s private enforcement mechanism is similar to Texas’s pro-life law, which went into effect last fall. Under the Texas law, anyone in the United States may sue anyone who helped a pregnant woman obtain an abortion after six weeks or when a heartbeat has been detected. Both laws forbid state officials, government employees, politicians, etc. from enforcing the law themselves.

However, Idaho’s law differs from the Texas law in that women who are victims of rape or incest are able to obtain abortions if they are able to provide a copy of a police report to the physician who would perform the abortion. The law also departs from Texas’s law in that only the doctor can be sued and only close family can sue.

Notably, the man accused of rape or incest is not allowed to sue an abortion provider under the law. The law would allow an exception for medical emergencies in which an abortion would be necessary “to avert [a woman’s] death” or to fight against a “serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” according to the bill.

According to the legislation, any licensed healthcare professional who “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly performs or induces an abortion” violates the law and “commits the crime of criminal abortion.”

“Criminal abortion shall be a felony punishable by a sentence of imprisonment of no less than two years and no more than five years in prison,” the bill text reads. “The professional license of any health care professional who performs or induces an abortion or who assists in performing or inducing an abortion in violation of this chapter shall be suspended by the appropriate licensing board for a minimum of six months upon a first offense and shall be permanently revoked upon a subsequent offense.”

Planned Parenthood issued a statement, expressing dismay at the possibility that fewer unborn children will be terminated in the state.

“Idaho’s anti-abortion lawmakers ignored public opinion and rushed through this legislation, looking to capitalize on the U.S. Supreme Court’s failure to block Texas’s ban,” Planned Parenthood claimed in a statement“The bill’s sponsors and supporters have even explicitly stated their desire for Idaho to be the next Texas.”

The CEO of Planned Parenthood Jennifer Allen asked Gov. Little to veto the legislation in a separate statement. 

“SB 1309 is a travesty grounded in bad motives, questionable legality, and no science at all. Governor Little must do the right thing, listen to the medical community, and veto this legislation before it forces Idaho patients to leave the state for critical, time-sensitive care or remain pregnant against their will,” Allen said.

GOP Rep. Steven Harris, the bill’s sponsor said the law will “end many abortions” in the state. 

“We heard in testimony in the committee; we heard in testimony here today that this will end many abortions in Idaho,” Harris said. “Let’s save some babies.”

One of the bill’s co-sponsors, state Rep. Barbara Ehardt (R), slammed the Supreme Court for ruling in favor of “abortion rights” in the 1973 case Roe. v Wade

“Abortion is not a constitutional right,” Ehardt said. “The Supreme Court in 1973 did something that was never allowed in the first place.”

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