May 29, 2015 / 4:49 PM / 4 years ago

Idaho abortion restrictions are unconstitutional: appeals court

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - An Idaho law that prohibits abortions of fetuses 20 or more weeks after fertilization is unconstitutional, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Friday.

The ruling, from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, also struck down an Idaho law that required all second-trimester abortions to occur in a hospital.

Bans on abortion after 20 weeks have been passed in 12 U.S. states since 2010, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights advocacy group. The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure this month that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks. The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, and Democratic President Barack Obama opposes it.

The Idaho laws have not been enforced in the state, as a lower court judge had reached the same conclusion as the 9th Circuit. A spokesman for the Idaho attorney general was not immediately available for comment on Friday.

The Idaho case began when a local prosecutor filed a criminal complaint against Jennie Linn McCormack for self-inducing an abortion by ingesting a pack of pills. That case was dismissed, but McCormack then filed a civil lawsuit challenging several Idaho abortion statutes.

In a unanimous three-judge opinion on Friday, the 9th Circuit said U.S. Supreme Court precedent barred the Idaho laws.

McCormack’s lawyer, Richard Hearn, said he and his client were “very pleased” with the ruling.

The case in the 9th Circuit is Jennie Linn McCormack and Richard Hearn vs. Stephen Herzog, 13-35401.

Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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