Idaho Supreme Court upholds state’s abortion ban News
Idaho Supreme Court upholds state’s abortion ban

Idaho’s Supreme Court Thursday dismissed an appeal of the state’s near-total ban on abortion by Planned Parenthood. In the 3-2 decision, the court found that there was no constitutional right to an abortion and rejected the claim that abortion rights were “deeply rooted” in the state’s traditions and history. In doing so, the court affirmed the stance taken by the US Supreme Court in overturning the landmark abortion rights case Roe v. Wade in June.

The decision comes just hours after the South Carolina Supreme Court released its opinion striking down the state’s six-week abortion ban under a privacy clause in the state’s constitution, which Planned Parenthood South Atlantic President and CEO Jenny Black described as “a monumental victory in the movement to protect legal abortion in the South.”

The lawsuit, brought by Planned Parenthood, challenged three Idaho abortion laws:

  • A near-total abortion ban passed by the state legislature in 2020;
  • A 2021 prohibition on abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected; and
  • A law passed in 2022 that allows potential family members of the fetus to sue for damages.

The court found that the Idaho Constitution does not contain an explicit right to abortion. It considered petitioners’ arguments that certain constitutional provisions implicitly enshrine abortion as a right, but rejected that such a “fundamental” right existed.

Justice Robyn Brody stated in the majority opinion that “There simply is no support for a conclusion that a right to abortion was ‘deeply rooted’ at the time the Inalienable Rights Clause was adopted.”

Justice John Stegner, dissenting, argued instead that offering to amend the constitution to include a right to abortion merely “placates” Idaho citizens. In his view, such an amendment would be redundant, because the constitution already protects this right. He argued:

Idahoans should not have to amend their constitution to force this Court to recognize the individual rights already protected by the Idaho Constitution […] I would hold that a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy is fundamental under Idaho’s constitution.