Jun 27, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Abortion providers sue Idaho, Texas, Mississippi to stop states' trigger bans

Picture of the Idaho Capitol

A sign is taped to a hanger taped to a streetlight in front of the Idaho Capitol on May 3. Photo: Sarah A. Miller/Idaho Statesman/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Abortion providers in Idaho, Texas and Mississippi have sued state officials to challenge "trigger" laws scheduled to take effect later in the summer that would make nearly all abortions illegal in those three states.

The big picture: These are the most recent lawsuits challenging trigger laws after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. So far, suits have been filed in Utah and Louisiana, and the latter's ban has been temporarily blocked.

State of play: In the Texas lawsuit, the plaintiffs are asking the court to temporarily block the state's pre-Roe ban, which state Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) said is in effect and prohibits abortion, even though the state's trigger law has yet to become active.

  • In the Idaho lawsuit, the plaintiffs argue that the state's trigger law is "unconstitutionally vague" and therefore should be "invalidated and declared unconstitutional."
  • In the Mississippi lawsuit, the plaintiff is Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last abortion clinic in the state. They argue the right to an abortion is protected under state Supreme Court precedent.

Details: The laws in Texas, Idaho and Mississippi would ban abortions and provide little exceptions. Under the Texas ban, abortions could be conducted only to save the life or permanent health of those who are pregnant.

  • In Idaho, the ban provides exceptions in cases of reported rape or incest, or to protect the pregnant person's life.
  • In Mississippi, the ban only has exceptions for risk of death or in reported cases of rape or incest. If a provider were to perform an abortion deemed illegal under that law, they would face up to 10 years in prison.
  • In Texas, a provider who breaks the law would face up to 20 years in prison — or more, if the fetus dies during the procedure — and a fine of no less than $100,000.
  • An Idaho provider who violates the trigger ban would face a maximum five-year imprisonment and lose their medical license for at least six months.

What they're saying: "In a single moment, Idahoans’ right to control their own bodies, lives, and personal medical decisions was taken away but we will not stand for it. We will never back down. We will never stop fighting," said Rebecca Gibron, CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana and Kentucky, which is suing Idaho.

  • "Every day, every hour that abortion remains legal in Texas is a chance for more people to get the care they need. The clinics we represent want to help as many patients as they can, down to the last minute," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is one of the organizations representing the providers suing Texas.
  • "Abortion remains legal in Mississippi. We will continue to work to ensure that every Mississippian can make their own decisions about their body, their lives, their relationships and their families," said Hillary Schneller, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the plaintiff in the Mississippi case.

Go deeper: Abortion rights activists plot next legal steps

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