Overturn of Roe v. Wade: What it would mean for Idaho abortion access

Posted at 4:57 PM, May 03, 2022

IDAHO — Idaho is one of 13 states where abortion would immediately become illegal if Roe V. Wade is overturned.

If the Supreme Court decides to strike down Roe V. Wade, abortion policy would revert to the individual states. Idaho code states anyone who performs an abortion could face two to five years in prison.

“The threat to abortion is no longer hypothetical,” Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Idaho State Director Mistie Dellicarpini-Tolman said. “The consequences of this impending Supreme Court decision would be swift, and they would be devastating for communities nationwide including here in Idaho where, should this draft become a ruling, our trigger ban would immediately go into effect effectively outlawing all abortions in the state of Idaho.”

Related: What is Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion access case?

Gov. Brad Little signed a law in 2020, including a trigger provision, making abortion a crime for the doctor performing the procedure should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe V. Wade.

“These states pass laws that act as a trigger that if Roe is overturned. Then immediately after it is overturned these laws essentially banning abortions in some cases with exceptions for rape and incest or the life of the mother, would go into effect immediately,” Assistant Professor of Political Science in Boise State University's School of Public Service Charles Hunt said.

In 2021, an appeals court ruling on a similar law in Texas nearly triggered Idaho's law, but fell short. If Roe V. Wade is overturned at the federal level, abortion will once again be regulated on a state-by-state basis and Idaho's trigger law would outlaw abortions immediately.

Related: U.S. Supreme Court abortion opinion leak: Idaho officials, residents react

“This would be devastating for people in Idaho who are pregnant, for women. Obviously for people who can become pregnant. I think it’s important to name that the people this all affects the most will be people without means,” Dellicarpini-Tolman said.

Abortions in certain cases such as incest, rape or danger to the mother would still be legal, but the amount of reproductive care in the state could drop significantly.

Related: Idaho Supreme Court temporarily blocks abortion ban law

“Those Idahoans who did wish to secure an abortion but did not fit the criteria would have to travel far and wide to get that care,” Hunt said.

According to Planned Parenthood, someone seeking an abortion would have to travel an average of 250 miles to receive care.

“It's important to know the law is not overturned yet. This was a leaked majority opinion right so the law has not changed. Roe is still the law of the land. At least until this opinion comes out but once it does, immediately that law would go into effect,” Hunt said.

Most recently, lawmakers looked to limit access to abortion care in the state passing the fetal heartbeat bill this year, banning abortions after a heartbeat is detected that Little signed into law.