PASADENA, Calif. — A federal appeals court has unanimously struck down Idaho’s 20-week abortion ban, stating that it is “facially unconstitutional because it categorically bans some abortions before viability.”
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Pasadena, Calif., ruled in favor of a woman who filed a class action lawsuit after she was faced with criminal prosecution for ending her unborn child’s life past the 20-week (5 month) mark.
According to reports, Jennie McCormack, a single mother of three who was raised Mormon, took five abortion pills in 2011 after she discovered that she was again pregnant. Because McCormack didn’t have the funds to travel to an abortion facility, her sister allegedly helped her obtain RU-486, and McCormack ingested the pills to end her child’s life.
But as authorities soon found that McCormack was keeping the baby’s dead body in a plastic bag on her front porch, she was charged with felony unlawful abortion. A state court later dismissed the charge, at which time McCormack filed a federal lawsuit to challenge Idaho’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
In 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Winmill struck down Idaho’s ban, opining that state legislation may not “rely on its interest in the potential life of the fetus to place a substantial obstacle to abortion before viability in women’s paths.”
On Friday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Winmill’s ruling, echoing that the law could bar some mothers from obtaining an abortion before viability—when the child could live apart from his or her mother outside of the womb. The standard comes from the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, both approved by a Republican majority.
However, some believe that the high court rulings are faulty and contend that gestational age does not make the child less human or unworthy of life. The film “Come What May,” produced by Patrick Henry College students, centers on this argument.
“They tear the baby out of its only means of life support, and say, ‘Wow, look at that; our machines can’t sustain it’s life,’ and somehow, that proves it’s not viable?” Caleb Hogan, played by Austin Kearney, declares in the movie.
Circuit Judge Harry Pregerson, appointed to the bench by then-President Jimmy Carter, asserted in yesterday’s ruling that prohibiting all mothers from ending their unborn child’s life at five months gestation is too restrictive of a regulation.
“The twenty-week ban applies regardless of whether the fetus has attained viability,” he wrote on behalf of the panel. “The Supreme Court reaffirmed in Casey that an undue burden exists if the purpose or effect of a provision of law places a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus obtains viability.”
“Because [Idaho’s law] places an arbitrary time limit on when women can obtain abortions, the statute is unconstitutional,” Pregerson declared.
Most second-term abortions involve a procedure known as dilation and extraction, which involves injecting the baby with fatal drugs to stop his or her heart from beating, and then removing the child piece by piece with forceps. The body parts are then assembled on a tray to ensure that the entirety of the baby was removed.
It is not known whether the state will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.