Challenging Idaho’s “Physician’s Only” Law

In December 2018, Legal Voice, along with Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai'i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, filed suit against Idaho challenging the law that prohibits qualified advanced practiced clinicians (APC’s) from providing abortion care.


The state is once again asking the Court to throw our case out, arguing that Justice Roberts, in his concurring opinion last year in June Medical Services v. Russo, single-handedly changed the law to make it easier for states to justify medically unnecessary, pre-viability abortion restrictions. Of course, this is nonsense, as we made clear in our response to the state’s motion for summary judgment (Find out what a summary judgement is here.) As we also made clear, the abortion restriction at issue is unconstitutional under any standard of review. States cannot burden patient access to abortion without any valid medical justification. Period. Laws prohibiting APCs from providing first-trimester abortion services drastically limit access to care without any medical basis.


In Idaho, 95% of counties have no abortion providers. And even in areas that have providers, access is extremely limited. (In Idaho Falls, for example, abortion care is available only two days each month.) These services are further restricted for those who already face systemic barriers to health care, including Black, Indigenous and People of color (BIPOC), people without insurance, people living in rural areas, young people, and people with low incomes. It is well documented that BIPOC communities experience higher rates of unintended pregnancy due to inadequate access to family planning services, sexual health education and other resources, a well-founded lack of trust in the medical profession, and other factors. Rates of maternal mortality and morbidity among pregnant people of color in the United States are unparalleled in the developed world.


APC’s are already performing numerous procedures that are at least as complex as abortion, including delivering babies, and providing miscarriage care to patients using medications and techniques that are identical to those used to administer most abortions. Laws that unnecessarily delay or limit access to abortion care without medical justification literally put lives at risk. Lifting medical unnecessary abortion restrictions would expand access to care, dramatically reduce delays, and protect the health and well-being of all pregnant people in Idaho.


The District Court in Idaho will hear oral argument on the state’s motion for summary judgment this Friday, June 11th. We remain optimistic but whatever happens, one thing is for sure. Legal Voice and its allies will not stop fighting in this case in Idaho, or in the broader struggle to ensure reproductive justice for all. We are grateful to you, our Legal Voice community—your support allows us to take on the fight in Idaho.


In Solidarity,


Kim