Politics & Policy

Idaho Governor Signs Bill Prohibiting Abortions after Heartbeat Detected

Idaho Governor Brad Little, January 22, 2021 (Idaho Public Television/via YouTube)

Republican Idaho governor Brad Little signed a bill into law Tuesday banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

The legislation makes termination of pregnancy illegal if the fetus has developed a detectable heartbeat. It includes a “trigger” provision that requires a similar law to be upheld by a federal appeals court in order for the law to become effective.

“We should never relent in our efforts to protect the lives of the preborn,” Little wrote in a statement announcing the law’s signing.

“Hundreds and hundreds of babies lose their lives every year in Idaho due to abortion, an absolute tragedy. I appreciate Idaho lawmakers for continuing to protect lives by passing this important legislation, and I am proud to sign the bill into law today,” Little said.

The law, HB 366, makes exceptions for certain cases such as medical emergencies “to avert (an abortion seeker’s) death or for which a delay will create serious risk of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” Rape and incest also qualify as exceptions, providing that the incident is reported to the police or child protective services.

Under the law, an abortion provider that violates the heartbeat rule could be penalized with five years in prison. The pregnant woman could subsequently file a lawsuit against the professional.

Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii attacked Little in a statement following the bill’s signing.

“Let’s be clear: Abortion is still completely legal in Idaho, even after six weeks. This legislation changes nothing,” the organization said.

“What it really does is simply set Idaho up for a lawsuit if a similar ban in another federal court upholds their unconstitutional legislation — and there is nothing that indicates that would ever happen. But even if it does, we will launch a lawsuit immediately to stop it,” they added.

Idaho is the second state this week, after South Carolina, to enact a heartbeat ban.

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