Idaho Gov. Brad Little joins Republican effort to reverse Roe v. Wade, outlaw abortion

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Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Thursday joined 11 other Republican governors in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legally protected women’s access to abortion, ahead of a hearing over an anti-abortion law in Mississippi.

The U.S. Supreme Court in May agreed to hear a case that challenged Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. A favorable ruling from what is now a conservative-dominated court would upend Roe v. Wade, which protected a woman’s right to an abortion before a fetus becomes viable. A 1992 Supreme Court ruling also said states can’t impose an “undue burden” on abortion rights before a fetus can sustain life outside of the womb.

In a news release Thursday, Little called the right to an abortion “a judicial creation.”

“Protecting the lives of pre-born babies has always been and will continue to be a priority of mine,” Little said Thursday. “I am also a defender of state sovereignty. ... I am asking the U.S. Supreme Court to clarify there is no constitutional right to an abortion and restore state sovereignty by allowing states to regulate all abortions consistent with the principles of democratic self-governance.”

Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, filed a lawsuit shortly after the Mississippi Legislature approved its 15-week law in 2018. Two lower courts have ruled in the clinic’s favor.

Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman, Idaho state director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, slammed Idaho’s elected officials for “focusing on attempts to strip away the rights of pregnant people” rather than issues surrounding low COVID-19 vaccination rates and rising infections.

DelliCarpini-Tolman said it’s “unacceptable that dogmatic lawmakers would rather make political statements than work toward relevant goals.”

Three of Idaho’s congressmen — U.S. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo, and U.S. Rep. Russ Fulcher — also joined a separate amicus brief on Mississippi’s lawsuit to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Idaho state legislators earlier this year passed a bill that would outlaw abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected. The law is triggered only if the bill has a favorable ruling from any federal appeals court. The bill could be interpreted to outlaw abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy — earlier than when many women even find out they’re pregnant.

Proponents of the “fetal heartbeat” bill in Idaho have said the ultimate goal is to set up the question of defining “viability” in the courts.

“It would be a worthwhile court battle from the state’s perspective to get involved with that favorable court opinion, to do everything we can in the state to defend life once there’s a detectable heartbeat,” Blaine Conzatti, head of the Family Policy Alliance of Idaho, told the Statesman in April.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear Mississippi’s case shortly after its makeup changed. Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who has said she opposes abortion, replaced Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.

The court is expected to hear the Mississippi lawsuit in the fall.

DelliCarpini-Tolman said Planned Parenthood will keep providing services and fight to protect women’s rights.

“Despite these attacks, we want our patients and the public to know that our doors stay open,” DelliCarpini-Tolman said. “Abortion is still legal, and safe, everywhere in the United States, and we will continue to fight to keep it that way and to expand access.”

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