The Idaho legislature [official website] on Tuesday gave final approval to a bill [SB 1165, PDF] that would prohibit most abortions [JURIST news archive] after 20 weeks of gestation. The "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" is based on disputed medical evidence suggesting that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks [Reuters report], and would permit abortions after that time period only in cases where the mother's life is at risk or she faces serious injury. A doctor who performs an abortion in violation of the time limit would be subject to criminal prosecution for a felony, but there would be no penalty for the woman undergoing the procedure. The bill includes additional provisions allowing civil suits to be filed for "actual damages" against the doctor performing the procedure by a woman upon whom an abortion is attempted or performed, or by the father of the unborn child if an abortion is performed. Also made available by the bill as "civil remedies" are injunctions which can be sought by a range of parties:
A cause of action for injunctive relief . . . may be maintained by the woman upon whom an abortion was performed or attempted to be performed in violation of the provisions of this chapter, by any person who is the spouse, parent, sibling, or guardian of, or a current or former licensed health care provider of the woman . . ., by a prosecuting attorney with appropriate jurisdiction, or by the attorney general.Regardless, there can be no damages assessed against the woman undergoing the procedure. Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter [official website] is expected to sign the approved legislation into law.
Since the November elections state legislatures across the country have been implementing measures to restrict abortions. Last week, the Iowa House of Representatives [official website] approved a bill [JURIST report] that would prohibit doctors from performing late-term abortions in the state. Last month, the Kansas Senate [official website] approved legislation restricting late-term abortions, after the House of Representatives approved the measure [JURIST reports] in February. Also last month, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard [official website] signed into law [JURIST report] a bill requiring women to seek counseling at a pregnancy center and wait three days before obtaining an abortion. The Missouri House of Representatives [official website] in March voted in favor of legislation restricting late-term abortions [JURIST report] and imposing penalties on doctors who fail to comply with the new restrictions. The legislation, which is slated to become effective at the end of August, bans abortions of "viable" fetuses. The Oklahoma House of Representatives [official website] also voted in March to approve a bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks of gestation [JURIST report].