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Pro-choice protesters march outside the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Wednesday, September 1, 2021. (Photo: Sergio Flores/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Calls for Senate to Act Grow as Idaho Governor Signs 'Heinous' Anti-Choice Law

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that President Joe Biden "again calls on Congress to act and send a bill to his desk to shut down these radical steps."

Brett Wilkins

Advocates on Wednesday called on the U.S. Senate to codify reproductive rights nationwide after Idaho's Republican governor signed into law a six-week abortion ban that incentivizes citizens to collect bounties on healthcare providers.

"It's clear that anti-choice lawmakers across the country are more emboldened than ever in advancing their draconian attacks on abortion rights and access."

The Idaho Statesman reports Gov. Brad Little signed into law S.B. 1309, which in addition to banning most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy allows potential relatives of an aborted fetus to sue medical professionals who attempt or perform the procedure. Under the law, successful litigants are entitled to a reward of $20,000, plus legal fees.

S.B. 1309—which will go into effect in 30 days unless a court intervenes—is modeled after Texas S.B. 8, although unlike that legislation, the Idaho law allows exceptions in cases of rape or incest. However, it requires survivors to file a police report with a physician before undergoing an exception-based abortion. 

Idaho state Rep. Lauren Necochea (D-19A) tweeted: "I am outraged that Gov. Little just signed our reproductive rights away in the cruelest way! Cash awards for rapists' relatives? That's the extremism that has gripped the Idaho Republican Party and it's taking our state over a cliff."

NARAL Pro-Choice America president Mini Timmaraju said in a statement that the U.S. Supreme Court's "refusal to block Texas' blatantly unconstitutional bounty-hunting scheme opened the door for anti-choice lawmakers in Idaho to adopt this cruel ban on abortion to enact in their own state."

"It's no surprise that anti-choice lawmakers are moving to take advantage of what they see as a loophole to bypass the constitutional right to abortion for as long as it stands," she continued.

"There's no doubt that this dystopian ban could shut off access to abortion care in Idaho, and its consequences will reverberate throughout the rest of the nation," Timmaraju—who called the law "heinous" on Twitter—added. "It's clear that anti-choice lawmakers across the country are more emboldened than ever in advancing their draconian attacks on abortion rights and access—no matter the costs to our freedoms and families."

NARAL Pro-Choice America warned that "the fight for reproductive freedom faces a pivotal moment as the anti-choice supermajority on the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hand down a decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization—a case regarding Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban that directly challenges Roe v. Wade."

"We cannot allow these unconstitutional and dangerous laws to stand. Abortion is healthcare, not a crime."

"If Roe fell tomorrow, 28 states are likely to take action to prohibit abortion outright," the group added. "Of those, 13 states—including Idaho—already have 'trigger bans' in place which would ban abortion automatically."

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) noted that "Republican state legislatures across the nation are criminalizing the constitutional right to abortion and now Idaho has signed the latest Texas-inspired bill into law. We cannot allow these unconstitutional and dangerous laws to stand. Abortion is healthcare, not a crime."

Reproductive rights advocates renewed calls for the U.S. Senate to pass the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA), which would codify abortion rights nationwide. The House of Representatives approved the WHPA last September, but the measure failed to pass in the upper chamber after right-wing West Virgina Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin voted with Republicans to filibuster it.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Wednesday that the Idaho law is "devastating for women," while noting that President Joe Biden "again calls on Congress to act and send a bill to his desk to shut down these radical steps."


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