The US state of Idaho has passed a law that puts health workers at risk of prosecution for performing voluntary abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy.
The law, signed by the governor on Wednesday, allows the families of women who have undergone a termination of pregnancy and the fathers of the fetus, even if it was a result of rape, to file a complaint against the hospitals or doctors who performed the surgery. The law is modelled on a similar piece of legislation that sparked outrage in Texas.
Idaho Governor Brad Little claims to be a staunch advocate for the rights of unborn babies. However, he said he was concerned that the law would have unintended consequences, including being “unconstitutional”. Authorizing private citizens to impose hefty fines “to avoid investigation by a court of law undermines our constitutional form of government and weakens our collective freedoms,” Little said.
The Texas law has been heavily criticized by human rights groups and even the White House. “Over the past six months, Texas law has had a very negative impact, forcing women to travel hundreds of miles to access health care,” said Jen Psaki, a White House spokeswoman. According to her, such laws severely impact low-income women living in rural areas.