Judge strikes down Idaho abortion ban

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho has become the first state to have its “fetal pain” law banning abortions after 20 weeks struck down by the federal courts.

The decision from US District Judge B. Lynn Winmill was handed down Wednesday as part of a ruling that also overturns other abortion restrictions in Idaho.

The ruling is binding only in Idaho but could have a persuasive effect in lawsuits challenging similar bans in other states, such as Arizona, where a suit is pending.


Ten states have enacted so-called fetal pain laws since 2010, said Elizabeth Nash, a policy analyst with the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks laws affecting women’s health.

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Supporters say the laws are necessary because some researchers have said fetuses begin to feel pain at around 20 weeks in the womb.

Nebraska was first to adopt such a law, followed by Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.

Senator Chuck Winder of Idaho, who led the legislative push for the law two years ago, said he and others would need to closely study Winmill’s ruling before deciding how the state should proceed.