Three Republican-led states this week enacted abortion bans triggered after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, while a judge on Aug. 25 blocked an abortion ban in North Dakota a day it was set to take effect.
Idaho, Tennessee, and Texas have joined eight other states that have abortion laws that kicked into effect after the high court repealed Roe on June 24. The three GOP-led states, unlike the other eight, had to wait 30 days beyond when the U.S. Supreme Court justices formally entered the judgment, which happened several weeks after the June 24 decision was announced.
The deadline was up on Aug. 25. The changes would not be pivotal because the three states already had abortion restrictions, and the majority of abortion providers in the three states have either stopped offering the services or relocated to other states where abortions continue to be legal.
Idaho’s new law bans most abortions except in cases of rape or incest, or when it was necessary to save the mother’s life. Doctors would have to prove such cases in court otherwise they may face a felony charge and face up to five years in prison. A day prior, on Aug. 24, a judge ruled that Idaho could not prosecute anyone who carries out an abortion in cases of a medical emergency.
In Tennessee, under the new trigger law that was passed in 2019, doctors who carry out abortion face felony charges and up to 15 years in prison. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. The only exception is for cases where it is deemed necessary to prevent death or permanent bodily harm to the mother. Tennessee had also previously passed a heartbeat law—banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy—that went into effect on June 28, that had similar exceptions.
Texas’s new trigger law makes performing an abortion from the moment of fertilization a crime punishable by up to life in prison. It has an exception for when the mother is facing “a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy.” It also says that the state’s attorney general “shall” seek a civil penalty of at least $100,000, as well as attorney’s fees.
North Dakota Abortion Ban on Hold
Meanwhile, a fourth state, North Dakota—which does not have broad abortion restrictions—had its trigger abortion ban blocked by Burleigh County District Judge Bruce Romanick, who is weighing an abortion clinic’s legal challenge that argued the abortion ban violates the state constitution’s guarantees of rights to life, liberty, safety, and happiness.
The state’s legislature passed the law in 2007. It would have outlawed abortion, and doctors who perform such procedures would be charged with a felony. The exception would be in cases of rape or incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger, and such cases would have to be proven in court.
Romanick granted the request for a preliminary injunction to put on the law on hold in a lawsuit brought by the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo. The abortion provider had already moved its services a short distance to nearby Moorhead, Minnesota, where abortion remains legal, even as it challenges the North Dakota law.
The judge said he was not ruling on the probability of the clinic winning the lawsuit, but that more time was needed to make a proper judgment. He said that even though the clinic moved to Minnesota, the abortion ban would also affect doctors and hospitals, making the decision to put the abortion ban on hold “still pertinent and appropriate.”
It marked the second time he put the state’s trigger law on hold. In late July, he issued a temporary restraining order and determined that North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley had “prematurely attempted” to implement the trigger law in certifying the U.S. Supreme Court’s judgment on July 28. Red River Women’s Clinic argued that the certification was premature because it takes 25 days after the U.S. Supreme Court releases an opinion for the court to issue an official judgment. Romanick’s ruling effectively gave the clinic time to move to Moorhead without a gap in operations.
Clinic attorney Tom Dickson told The Associated Press that his team was “gratified” by the latest ruling. Meanwhile, Wrigley said his office will “continue our efforts to ensure the eventual enforcement of the bipartisan provision signed into law back in 2007.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times