Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement

SIGN UP FOR MS. DIGEST, JOBS, NEWS AND ALERTS

FEMINIST WIRE NEWSBRIEFS

ABOUT
SEE CURRENT ISSUE
SHOP MS. STORE
MS. IN THE CLASSROOM
FEMINIST DAILY WIRE
FEMINIST RESOURCES
PRESS
JOBS AT MS.
READ BACK ISSUES
CONTACT
RSS (XML)
 
feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

March-08-13

Idaho "Fetal Pain" Bill Struck Down By Federal Court

On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that an Idaho law banning abortion after 20 weeks is unconstitutional because it places an undue burden on a woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy before viability.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill wrote in his opinion, "the Idaho Legislature's enactment of the [fetal pain law] in light of this opinion is compelling evidence of the legislature's 'improper purpose' in enacting it." He also wrote, "the state's clear disregard of this controlling Supreme Court precedent and its apparent determination to define viability in a manner specifically and repeatedly condemned by the Supreme Court evinces an intent to place an insurmountable obstacle in the path of women seeking non-therapeutic abortions of a nonviable fetus at and after 20 weeks' gestation."

In delivering his decision the judge said, "the purpose of the [law's] categorical ban is to protect the fetus - not the mother. In essence, [the law] embodies a legislative judgment equating viability with 20 weeks' gestational age, which the Supreme Court expressly forbids."

The ban, based on the notion that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks gestation, was only one part of the anti-abortion law that was overturned. Judge Winmill also struck down two additional provisions. One required that an abortion be performed by a physician in a staffed clinic, which all but eliminated access to medical abortions, and the other required any second trimester abortion to be performed in a hospital and could have potentially criminalized a woman seeking a second trimester abortion.

In his decision, Judge Winmill wrote "Historically, abortion statutes sought to protect pregnant females from third parties providing dangerous abortions. As a result, most states' abortion laws traditionally criminalized the behavior of third parties to protect the health of pregnant women - they did not punish women for obtaining an abortion. By punishing women, Idaho's abortion statute is therefore unusual."

Judge Winmill's decision marks the first time a fetal pain bill has been overturned in federal court.

Media Resources: Politico 3/8/2013; LA Times 3/7/2013; Associated Press 3/6/2013


© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.

 

 

Send to a Friend
Their
Your
Comments
(optional)


More Feminist News

4/22/2014 US Ranks 16th in 2014 Social Progress Index - The Social Progress Imperative recently released its 2014 Social Progress Index, ranking the United States in 16th place among 132 countries. Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter, a Republican who led the report team, told CNN's Fareed Zakaria that he was surprised by the ranking. . . .
 
4/22/2014 Florida Supreme Court Recognizes Anti-Discrimination Protections for Pregnant Workers - The Florida State Supreme Court ruled last week that pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination under Florida employment law. The 6-1 decision allows Peguy Delva to proceed with her lawsuit against her employer, real estate developer Continental Group. . . .
 
4/21/2014 Arizona Governor Signs Bill Allowing Suprise Inspections of Abortion Clinics - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill into law last week allowing state health authorities to conduct surprise inspections of abortion clinics without a warrant. HB 2284 repeals an Arizona law that requires a judge to give approval for inspections of abortion clinics. . . .