BOISE, Idaho, April 18, 2011 ( – Idaho is now officially the third U.S. state to have a law banning late-term abortion on the basis of fetal pain.


Gov. Butch Otter on Thursday signed SB 1165 into law. The law bans abortion past 20 weeks on the basis that substantial medical evidence shows unborn babies feel pain acutely at that age.

“I am right-to-life, I have been a right-to-life candidate in government all my life,” said Otter, according to Reuters. He told reporters that signing the bill was “the right thing to do.” 

Idaho follows Kansas and Nebraska in enacting successfully a late-term abortion ban based on fetal pain. So far the bans have not been challenged in federal court.

Just last week, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed HB 2218, the Pain-capable Unborn Child Protection Act, and HB 2035, the Accuracy in Abortion Reporting & Parental Rights Act. Both bills represent a major overhaul of the state’s abortion laws, and a milestone in decades of pro-life efforts.

Although state health data indicates that the law would save a relatively small number of unborn children from abortion (just 14 out of 1650 abortions in 2009 were over 20 weeks), pro-life leaders said the legislation would both help save some lives and keep national attention focused on the plight of the unborn child at whatever stage of his development.

The abortion ban has no exception for rape and incest, and only permits it if the mother’s physical life is at stake. Lawmakers debated creating a rape or incest exception, but pro-life lawmakers argued that the unborn child was also a victim in such cases, and should not be punished.

The bill allows criminal and civil penalties for abortionists who intentionally or recklessly flout the law. The law also sets up a litigation defense fund, which may accept private contributions, in order to defend the law if challenged in court.