Idaho Woman Challenges State’s Anti-Abortion Laws

Remember Jennie Lin McCormack of Pocotello, Idaho, who was prosecuted for inducing her own abortion a few months ago? The case was later dropped for lack of evidence, but McCormack has now filed a lawsuit challenging Idaho’s 1972 law that makes it a crime for a woman to terminate her own pregnancy, as well as a new “fetal pain” law that bans abortions after 20 weeks, according to Reuters.

The lawsuit is believed to be the first federal court case against any of several late-term abortion bans enacted in Idaho and four other states during the past year, based on controversial medical research suggesting a fetus feels pain starting at 20 weeks of development.

Modeled after a 2010 Nebraska “fetal pain” law yet to be challenged, similar measures were considered in at least 16 states this year as anti-abortion groups made good on sweeping Republican gains from last year’s elections.

When McCormack realized she was pregnant in 2010, she was desperate to have an abortion. She already had three children and could not afford to support another on her tiny income of $200-$250 per month. But she couldn’t afford a surgical abortion either, so she asked her sister to order some pills on line that would help induce abortion. A woman named Brenda Carnahan, the fetus fetishist sister of one of McCormack’s friends turned her in to police.

More from Reuters:

The 1972 Idaho law discriminates against McCormack and other women of limited means in southeastern Idaho, which lacks any abortion providers, by forcing them to seek more costly surgical abortions far from home, the lawsuit says.

The newly enacted Idaho law banning late-term abortions was not yet in effect when McCormack terminated her own pregnancy using abortion pills she obtained from an online distributor at between 20 and 21 weeks of gestation on December 24, 2010, according to her lawyer, Richard Hearn.

But Hearn, also a physician, argues that both the 1972 law and the newly enacted Idaho statute pose other unconstitutional barriers to abortion. He cited, for example, the failure to exempt third-trimester pregnancies (25 weeks or more) in cases where a woman’s health, not just her life, is at risk.

This is obviously a very important case for women to keep an eye on. Someone needs to challenge the slew of new state laws that have sprung up since the 2010 midterm elections.