Idaho Court Blocks Law Denying Poor Women Assistance for Medically Necessary Abortions

Affiliate: ACLU of Idaho
August 17, 2001 12:00 am

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BOISE, ID – The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood of Idaho hail today’s district court decision blocking a law that denies Medicaid coverage for medically necessary abortions.

“Today’s decision is a victory for low-income women in Idaho,” said Louise Melling, Acting Director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project and an attorney on the case. “We are gratified that the court recognized that the law in question unconscionably jeopardizes the health of women who need abortions and receive their health care through the state Medicaid program.”

In granting the injunction, the court wrote: “having considered the totality of the evidence, [the court] finds that irreparable harm will result if a preliminary injunction is not issued.”

Furthermore the court held that Planned Parenthood of Idaho has a “reasonable likelihood” of prevailing in this challenge.

“We are satisfied that today’s decision will keep the law from harming indigent women,” said Newal Squyres, cooperating counsel for the ACLU of Idaho and local counsel for Planned Parenthood of Idaho.

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.

In the earlier case, 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.

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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