Court Rules that Anti-Choice Law Can't Be Used to Prosecute Mother Who Aborted at Home


Jennie Linn McCormack, the Idaho woman whose story of a self-induced abortion that resulted in criminal charges is among the most depressing things you’ll ever read, got a big legal win today when a US Circuit Court ruled that her home state couldn’t charge her with any crime. Idaho’s draconian anti-abortion laws put an undue burden on women like McCormack seeking to terminate their pregnancies, the court ruled, and, to use proper legalese, to be frank, shit is getting pretty ridiculous for women who want to access a legal medical procedure.

Idaho state law requires that all abortions during the first trimester be performed by a doctor in a hospital, clinic, or doctor’s office. It also require a 24-hour waiting period. For women like McCormack who don’t live anywhere near a clinic that performs abortions, complying with the law would lead to taking time off work, finding childcare, and finding lodging overnight in the city where the abortion would be provided. McCormack’s plight isn’t an uncommon one — 86% of counties in the US do not contain an abortion provider, and women like McCormack who live in rural areas are often up a creek without a paddle if they end up pregnant and they don’t want to be.

Rather than deal with the red tape, McCormack ordered abortion-inducing drugs through a doctor online and took them at her house. When her 20-week-old aborted fetus was discovered in McCormack’s yard, authorities charged her with violating the state law, wasting enormous amounts of time and resources essentially trying to prosecute a woman for inducing her own miscarriage. The charges against her were dismissed, but McCormack countersued, claiming that not only should she not have been charged with a crime, the law should not be used to prosecute women who are unduly burdened by the state’s requirements.

And the court agreed, mostly. In its ruling, the Ninth Circuit ruled that abortion statutes like Idaho’s should only exist as a way to regulate doctors who provide unsafe abortions, not the women who want to make decisions about their pregnancies. This isn’t Gilead, Ida-bros. And other states who attempt to pass laws that could possibly be interpreted as a way for law enforcement to go after women better knock it off, because that shit’s unconstitutional.

According to Reuters, the state of Idaho hasn’t released a statement on what its next move will be, but here’s my next move: gleefully pumping my fist up into the air and sending an invisible high five to Jennie Linn McCormack.


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