Judge to consider suspending abortion reporting law

NAMPA, Idaho (AP) — Lawyers are asking a U.S. judge to issue a preliminary injunction blocking a new Idaho law requiring doctors to report extensive personal information to the state about women who have had abortions.

The law, which took effect July 1, requires health care providers to disclose information about patients who had one of several “complications” listed in the law, the Idaho Press reported.
A preliminary injunction means the law would not be enforced while the matter is being discussed in court.

The information includes a patient's age, race, number of previous pregnancies, live births and previous abortions.

Providers can face heavy penalties if they do not comply.

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands claim that the law could violate a patient’s privacy and can also place an “onerous burden” on health care providers.

“Our major argument is that the statute is unconstitutional and is overly vague,” said Deborah Ferguson of the law firm Ferguson Durham, PLLC.

The complications listed in the statute range from death to a missed follow-up appointment, and can also include a patient’s “emotional condition,” the motion stated.

The plaintiffs argue that the complications can be interpreted in various ways and require “practitioners to guess whether and when they must report any of these occurrences,” according to the motion from the plaintiffs.

The Idaho attorney general’s office declined to comment on the case, but government attorneys said in court documents that health care providers who offer abortion services have been required to report certain complications for years.

The new law extended that requirement to other health care providers, they said in written arguments.

The reports will not be made public and providers are not instructed to include the “patient’s name, Social Security number and other common identifiers and information that would make it possible to identify her,” the attorneys wrote.

U.S. District Judge David Nye is expected to rule on the motion in the coming weeks.