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Catholic church asks to intervene in Idaho abortion lawsuit

April 12, 2022 GMT

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Roman Catholic Church is asking the Idaho Supreme Court to let it intervene in a lawsuit over a new law banning nearly all abortions.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise, which covers all of Idaho, filed the request to intervene in support of the abortion ban as a “friend of the court” on Monday.

Idaho last month became the first state to enact legislation modeled after the Texas statute banning abortions after about six weeks. The law would allow the potential father, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles of the embryo or fetus to each sue an abortion provider for a minimum of $20,000 in damages within four years after the abortion. Rapists can’t file a lawsuit under the law, but a rapist’s relatives could.

Planned Parenthood of Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana and Kentucky sued over the law, calling it unconstitutional, and last week the Idaho Supreme Court blocked the abortion ban from taking effect while the lawsuit is underway.

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In the request to intervene, attorneys for the Catholic church said the Diocese has “maintained a vested interest in the dignity and sanctity of all human life, including life of the unborn.”

The bishop of the diocese, Bishop Peter Christensen, wrote in a legal filing that the church helped get the abortion ban through the Legislature.

“The Diocese counseled and educated legislators regarding the same, and provided support during the legislative process to proponents of the bill,” Christensen wrote in the legal filing.

The lawsuit is one of many legal fights going on nationwide over access to abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority signaled willingness in a Mississippi case to severely erode or even strike down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that made abortion legal nationwide until a baby can survive outside the womb. Numerous states with Republican majorities are poised to follow the strictest interpretation of the ruling.