(Reuters) – A Planned Parenthood affiliate and two doctors on Wednesday filed a lawsuit seeking to block Idaho authorities from punishing healthcare providers for referring patients to get abortions in other states.
Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador, a Republican, said in a legal opinion last week that the state’s near-total abortion ban, enacted last August, “prohibits an Idaho medical provider from … referring a woman across state lines to access abortion services.”
In their lawsuit, filed in federal court in Boise, Planned Parenthood and the doctors said Labrador’s interpretation of the law violates the U.S. Constitution by prohibiting protected free speech and attempting to extend Idaho law beyond its borders.
“Attorney General Labrador is violating the boundaries of our constitution to further deny Idahoans the freedom to decide what is best for their own bodies and futures,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in a statement.
Labrador’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Idaho banned abortion through a so-called trigger law that took effect in August shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which had guaranteed a right to abortion nationwide.
The law has no exceptions, but allows a provider charged with performing an illegal abortion to overcome the charge by proving in court that the abortion was needed to save the mother’s life, or resulted from rape or incest reported to law enforcement.
It mandates two-to-five years in prison for a provider convicted of performing an illegal abortion, and suspension of the medical license of a provider who assists in one.
Idaho Governor Brad Little signed another anti-abortion bill into law on Wednesday that would ban helping a minor cross state lines for an abortion without parental consent.
(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Bill Berkrot)
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