ACLU and Planned Parenthood of Idaho Urge Court to Strike Law Denying Poor Women Assistance for Medically Necessary Abortions

Affiliate: ACLU of Idaho
June 22, 2001 12:00 am

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BOISE, ID – Moving to protect the rights and health of low-income women, the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood of Idaho filed suit today in a district court, asking the court to block a law that would deny Medicaid coverage for medically necessary abortions.

The law in question is set to take effect July 1, 2001.

This is the second time the ACLU and Planned Parenthood have challenged an attempt by the state to impermissibly restrict assistance for abortions and thereby endanger the health of women throughout the state.

“The amendment in question turns the clock back to before 1994, when, in a nearly identical case, Roe v. Harris, a judge held the failure to cover medically necessary abortions unconstitutional,” said B. Newal Squyres, cooperating counsel for the ACLU of Idaho and local counsel for Planned Parenthood of Idaho.

“The restrictions are just as unconstitutional now as they were seven years ago,” he said. “In reintroducing these restrictions, the state is acting irresponsibly at the expense of poor women’s health and rights.”

In Roe v. Harris, the court held that although the state has no obligation to provide medical benefits, where it chooses to provide coverage for medically necessary services for women carrying to term, it cannot, under the Idaho state constitution, deny coverage to women seeking abortions necessary to preserve their health. The state did not appeal that decision.

“Without state assistance,” said Rebecca Poedy, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood of Idaho, “many poor pregnant women suffering from severe medical complications such as epilepsy, heart disease, renal disease, or cancer who need abortions to preserve their health will be forced to delay having the procedure and thereby risk their health. Others will be forced to forgo an abortion entirely, putting their health in serious medical danger.”

The case is Planned Parenthood v. Kurtz, No CV OC 0103909D.

Attorneys on the case are Louise Melling, Jennifer Dalven, and Jody Yetzer of the National ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project; B. Newal Squyres and Mark V. York for the ACLU of Idaho and Planned Parenthood of Idaho; and Helene T. Krasnoff of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, representing Planned Parenthood of Idaho, Inc., Glenn Weyhrich, M.D., and Duane St. Clair, M.D.

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