Idaho became the first state to pass abortion legislation modeled after Texas’ six-week ban on Monday.
The Idaho House voted 51-14 with no Democratic support to pass a bill that would allow potential family members to sue any doctor who performs an abortion during a pregnancy longer than six weeks. The state Senate had already approved the bill, which now goes to Gov. Brad Little, who is likely to sign it.
Little, a Republican, signed a similar so-called “fetal heartbeat” bill into law last year. That measure includes a trigger provision that requires a federal court to rule in favor of it – which hasn’t happened yet.
The new proposed legislation is similar a Texas law that bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy but before many people realize they are pregnant.
The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed the Texas law to remain in place until a court challenge is decided on its merits. The Texas Supreme Court ruled against abortion providers last week, dealing what many consider to be the final blow to their legal challenges.
The Idaho bill would allow the potential father, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles of a preborn child to sue an abortion provider for a minimum of $20,000 in damages within four years of the procedure. Although a rapist wouldn’t be able to file a lawsuit, their relatives could.
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“This bill makes sure that the people of Idaho can stand up for our values and do everything in our power to prevent the wanton destruction of innocent human life,” Republican Rep. Steven Harris, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement after the vote.
Marissa Morrison, Little’s spokeswoman, said Monday that the governor hadn’t seen the bill and doesn’t comment on pending legislation.
Jennifer M. Allen, CEO of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, a nonprofit group working in Idaho and five other states, urged him to reject it.
“Gov. Little must do the right thing, listen to the medical community, and veto this legislation before it forces Idaho patients to leave the state for critical, time-sensitive care or remain pregnant against their will,” she said in a statement.
Idaho is one of several states that have taken recent steps toward restricting abortions.
In Missouri, anti-abortion proposals in the state House would allow lawsuits against those who help residents cross state lines for the procedure, as well as making the abortion of nonviable pregnancies a crime.
The Republican-controlled Senate in Oklahoma last week approved a half-dozen anti-abortion measures, including a Texas-style ban that allows private lawsuits against those who perform abortions.
Arizona lawmakers are pushing a bill that would prohibit abortions after 15 weeks, modeled after a Mississippi law.
And legislation similar to the Mississippi ban have been introduced in 11 other states this year, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights.
Contributing: The Associated Press