On Tuesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the prosecution of an Idaho woman who was charged by Bannock County prosecutors for aborting her pregnancy by taking pills, instead of visiting a clinic or hospital as required by state law. Jennie Linn McCormack, an unmarried mother of three had been held criminally liable for taking her abortion into her own hands.
However, the 9th Circuit noted that no licensed healthcare providers offered abortion near McCormack’s place of residence in southeastern Idaho, and that the medicine she took was approved for use by the FDA and was prescribed over the internet.
Primarily, the criminal case against McCormack was dismissed after the circumstances came to the knowledge of the court, and then she filed a lawsuit claiming the abortion law in Idaho to be unconstitutional. In consequence, a federal judge in Idaho issued an injunction blocking enforcement of the law.
The 9th Circuit agreed with the order of injunction and held that criminal abortion statutes usually applied to individual professionals, such as doctors, who perform abortions in a manner that threaten the safety of women. Such laws could not apply to the pregnant women themselves, according to the opinion of the court.
The 9th Circuit observed, “There can be no doubt, that requiring women to explore the intricacies of state abortion statutes to ensure that they and their provider act within the Idaho abortion statute framework, results in an ‘undue burden’ on a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.”
While at this point of time the injunction is applicable only to the case of McCormack, the matter may ultimately end in a judgment striking down the law in its entirety, according to the 9th Circuit.
Currently, Idaho requires that abortions during the first trimester be performed in a hospital, doctor’s office, or approved abortion clinic.