Federal judge blocks Idaho RU-486 regulations as ‘likely unconstitutional’
BOISE, September 29, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A federal judge in Idaho has sided with a woman who complained that Idaho law requiring that the medical abortion drug RU-486 be distributed by a physician is unconstitutional.
Plaintiff Jennie McCormack brought the complaint after she was charged with violating Idaho law by obtaining RU-486 over the Internet, and ingesting it during either the second or third trimester of her pregnancy. The charges have since been dropped.
Idaho Federal District Judge Lynn Winmill issued the ruling late Friday afternoon, which granted a temporary restraining order against the statute in the case McCormack v. Heideman.
The statute in question states that a first-trimester abortion must be performed by a physician in a hospital, physician’s office, or clinic “properly staffed and equipped for the performance of such procedures” where the abortionist has “made satisfactory arrangements with one or more acute care hospitals within reasonable proximity” to provide emergency care in case an abortion procedure goes awry.
Winmill concluded that the plaintiff was likely correct that the statute placed undue burden on abortion-bound women.
“Under the statute, a woman is put to the Hobson’s choice of finding a means to police her healthcare provider’s actions, or being threatened with criminal prosecution for her healthcare provider’s failings,” he wrote. “Faced with these two choices, a woman will likely choose not to have an abortion through an Idaho physician.”
However, Winmill struck down the plaintiff’s bid to challenge the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act based on lack of standing.
“Plaintiff’s testimony that she would seek an abortion if she were to become pregnant in the future does not suffice to give her standing,” he noted.
David Ripley, Executive Director of Idaho Chooses Life, said, “our worst fears in this lawsuit have come to pass.”
“While the new fetal pain law has escaped Winmill’s courtroom, laws regulating 1st trimester abortions have not,” said Ripley in a press release Monday.
FDA rules require that RU-486 be used only in the first 49 days of pregnancy, something that would require a doctor’s visit to confirm. The drug also requires a follow-up exam to remove any parts of the baby’s remains still in its mother’s womb, or else it poses a major risk to her health.
Botched RU-486 abortions have killed at least a dozen U.S. women since the drug was approved by the FDA in 2000.
Ripley expressed fear that the order makes it impossible to enforce regulation of the dangerous drug.
“One of the worst implications of Winmill’s activism is that Idaho women are no longer protected from quacks and quick-buck artists preying upon them at times of great stress,” said Ripley.