headline news online news
By Ryan Suppe
Boise, Idaho (TNS) — Earlier this year, Jennifer Adkins learned during a 12-week ultrasound that her second child — nicknamed “Spooky” because she was due near Halloween — was unlikely to survive her pregnancy. online news
Adkins said doctors told her the likely miscarriage could result in mirror syndrome, a rare disorder that would cause her to experience the same life-threatening symptoms as the fetus. Adkins recalled that her medical providers were “visibly distraught” when they told her Idaho law prevented them from performing an abortion. After traveling to Oregon for a legal abortion, Adkins said she and her husband struggled to pay their mortgage.
Now Adkins is suing the state alongside a group of doctors and three Idaho other women who were also denied abortions despite dangerous pregnancy complications. The legal complaint asks a court to clarify the circumstances that are grounds for a legal abortion in Idaho, which bans the procedure in all cases unless it was necessary to prevent the death of a pregnant patient.
“It isn’t safe to be pregnant in Idaho,” Adkins told reporters during a news conference Tuesday. “People in Idaho must be able to make informed decisions with their doctors, without the intrusion from politics. What I needed was an abortion, a safe and standard medical procedure that is often required to save lives and keep families intact.”
Abortion restrictions challenged in 3 states
Idaho is among three states targeted for legal challenges by the Center for Reproductive Rights, a national nonprofit that advocates for abortion rights. The group also filed complaints on behalf of women who were denied abortions and doctors in Tennessee and Oklahoma.
headline news online news
Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the nonprofit, said the eight women challenging their states’ abortion restrictions have experienced “unthinkable trauma.”
“Today they are holding their states accountable for the suffering that their laws have caused,” Northup said during the news conference. “The abortion bans in Idaho, Tennessee and Oklahoma have forced these women to flee their own states just to survive.”
Idaho law makes it a crime to perform any abortion unless the procedure saves the life of the mother or terminates a pregnancy that was the result of incest or rape. The latter exceptions only apply if the crime was reported to police.
Idaho physicians have pushed for health exceptions as well, which would allow an abortion when a nonviable pregnancy presents serious health risks to the pregnant person. Doctors also have pressed for clarity around the circumstances for an abortion that was “necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman,” as the law currently allows.
The Center for Reproductive Rights lawsuit asks Idaho’s 4th Judicial District in Ada County to clarify the scope of medical exceptions in the law. It also asks the court to block the state from preventing pregnant patients with “emergent medical conditions” from receiving abortion care.
Emergent conditions can include bleeding or hemorrhaging, sever hypertension and conditions that can lead to dangerous infections, according to the lawsuit.
Doctors who perform an illegal abortion in Idaho can face up to five years in prison and up to $20,000 in fines as well as have their medical license revoked.
Idaho’s abortion ban sows confusion
Idaho’s abortion restrictions have “sown confusion, fear and chaos among the medical community,” leading obstetrician-gynecologists and maternal fetal medicine specialists to resign and leave Idaho “in droves,” attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.
“Idaho’s health care crisis is borne out by the real experiences of patients and their doctors,” the attorneys wrote. “Plaintiffs … as well as numerous other pregnant Idahoans have been denied necessary and potentially lifesaving obstetric care because … medical professionals throughout the state reasonably fear liability under Idaho’s abortion bans.”
Two doctors and the Idaho Academy of Family Physicians are plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Dr. Emily Corrigan, a Boise obstetrician-gynecologist, told reporters Tuesday that the last year of her career has been the most difficult in her 16 years in the field.
“This situation should alarm anyone in Idaho wanting to expand their family and all people who value having access to basic and specialty health care services in their home state,” Corrigan said.
headline news online news
This year, the Legislature passed a bill that clarified a few exceptions to the law. Physicians negotiated with anti-abortion lawmakers and Idaho Chooses Life, an anti-abortion group that authored Idaho’s abortion ban, to make exceptions clearer. Previously, doctors who performed an abortion to save the life of the mother or terminate a pregnancy that resulted from incest or rape were granted affirmative defenses — opportunities to present evidence in court that negates charges. Now, doctors are exempt from prosecution in those instances.
Physicians also tried to add an exception that would allow abortions for the health of a pregnant patient. Lawmakers rejected it.
Corrigan said she’s still hopeful the Legislature could improve the law, but doctors can’t wait for the next legislative session to enact changes.
“Medical care does not operate on the same timeline that the Legislature does,” she said. “We still have patients coming in every single day with situations that we have to sort out, and it’s become too much for many of my colleagues, and they have decided to leave.”
Idaho abortion laws beset with legal challenges
The Center for Reproductive Rights’ lawsuit joins a slew of challenges to Idaho’s abortion restrictions. The most recent came last month, when college professors asked a federal court to strike down a 2021 law that bars public employees from promoting abortion or counseling in favor of the procedure.
Last year, the Idaho Supreme Court upheld Idaho’s near-total abortion ban against a constitutional challenge by Idaho abortion providers and attorneys from Planned Parenthood. But the U.S. Justice Department won an injunction on Idaho’s criminal abortion penalties in emergency situations, after federal attorneys successfully argued that the restrictions could jeopardize the health of a pregnant patient.
Last month, U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled that Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador can’t seek criminal penalties against medical providers who refer patients out of state for legal abortions. A gynecologist and a family doctor sued Labrador after he issued a legal opinion declaring that out-of-state abortion referrals violate Idaho law.
©2023 Idaho Statesman. Visit at idahostatesman.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.