Idaho governor signs bill into law banning “fetal heartbeat” abortions.

BOISE — Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed legislation Tuesday that would outlaw nearly all abortions in conservative Idaho by banning them once a fetal heartbeat can be detected.

The Republican governor signed the law into law, which includes a “trigger provision,” meaning it won’t go into effect unless a federal appeals court somewhere in the country upholds similar legislation from another state.

The measure makes performing an abortion on a woman whose embryo shows detectable cardiac activity punishable by up to five years in prison. It would also allow the woman receiving the abortion to sue the provider.

An invasive vaginal ultrasound can detect fetal heart activity as early as week six—many women before they realize they are pregnant.

“Idaho is a state that values ​​the most innocent of lives — the lives of babies,” Little said in a statement. “We should never let up in our efforts to protect the lives of premature babies. Hundreds and hundreds of babies lose their lives to abortion each year in Idaho, an absolute tragedy. I applaud the Idaho legislature for continuing to protect lives by passing this important law, and I am proud to sign the law into law today.”

The Idaho Department of Health and Human Services reports that there were 1,513 induced abortions in 2019. The agency says 1,049 of these occurred within the first nine weeks.

The bill includes exceptions for rape, incest, or medical emergencies. The rape and incest exemption would likely be impossible for many women to meet, opponents said, because Idaho law prohibits the release of police reports during active investigations.

Opponents also said many rape victims don’t want to report the crimes to law enforcement immediately, and even when they do, the reports are often sealed for three months or more. They say forcing women to report their rape immediately and then struggling to get a copy of the report fast enough to have an abortion would profoundly compound the trauma they have already experienced.

Opponents say emergency medical care is so vague that it is unlikely to be of much help to medical professionals.

Supporters of the law say they want it to be challenged in the US Ninth Circuit Court of Circuits and then decided in the US Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority after former President Donald Trump appointed three conservative justices has.

Ultimately, proponents want the proposed Idaho law to have a role in repealing Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide. A reversal by Roe would mean that abortion policy would revert to the states.

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