Constitutional Law

Federal Judge Blocks Enforcement of Idaho Law Criminalizing Certain Abortions


A federal judge has temporarily barred Idaho from enforcing a decades-old state law prohibiting women from terminating their own pregnancy.

The law, enacted in 1972, criminalizes abortions not specifically authorized by law, such as those performed by a licensed physician.

Jennie Linn McCormack, 33, was charged earlier this year with allegedly ending her own pregnancy with abortion pills she ordered online.

McCormack filed suit in August, claiming that the law is unconstitutional.

Last week, Idaho federal judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled that McCormack is likely to succeed on the merits of her claim that the Idaho law poses an unconstitutional barrier on her right to seek an abortion, according to Reuters.

But the judge ruled against McCormack on her separate claim challenging another Idaho law barring late-term abortions without proof that the woman’s life is in danger.

Winmill concluded that McCormack lacked standing to challenge that law because she is no longer pregnant.

McCormack’s lawyer, Richard Hearn, told the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog that he was “extremely pleased” by the ruling on McCormack’s first claim.

He also said the judge’s ruling that his client lacked standing to challenge the late-term abortion ban was preliminary. “We are hopeful that we can show the court that she does have standing,” he said.

Mark Hiedeman, the prosecutor in the case, pointed out that the judge has not issued a final determination on the constitutionality of the law.

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