Judge hears lawsuit against Idaho’s abortion laws

By Dave Andrusko

Jennie Linn McCormack sits with her attorney, Richard Hearn.

The Idaho State Journal reported that U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill heard summary judgment arguments Tuesday in the lawsuit brought last year by  Jennie Linn McCormack against Bannock County prosecutor Mark Hiedeman. McCormack and her attorney, Richard Hearn, are trying to overturn both the specific statute under which McCormack was charged and the state’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which was passed long after McCormack used chemical abortifacients purchased over the Internet to abort.

“The judge, after hearing their arguments for about an hour, told them he likes to issue rulings within 30 days and would issue one in their case as soon as possible,” the State Journal reported.

McCormack, the mother of three, aborted in late 2010. Hiedeman charged her in May 2011 under an Idaho law that makes it illegal for anyone other than a health care professional to be involved with ending a pregnancy. Hearn defended McCormack and the case was dismissed.

A judge tossed the charges “without prejudice,” meaning in theory McCormack could face charges again at any time, although there has never been a hint that prosecutors have any interest in so doing. McCormack then challenged the law in federal court, as she did the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Hiedeman has said repeatedly that the case was moot; he had no intention of prosecuting McCormack.

Adding further complication is that in September, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals held that the part of Idaho’s abortion law that McCormack was charged under may be unconstitutional but also ruled that the plaintiff did not have standing to challenge the state’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

When Judge Pregerson emphasized more than once that McCormack had stated that the “medications” were purchased over the Internet and prescribed by an unnamed physician who lived outside Bannock County, it left Mary Spaulding Balch, the director of NRLC’s Department of State Legislation, aghast.

“What this decision means is that no state can protect a woman from unscrupulous Internet hacks who will offer ‘quick fixes’ that can be lethal to women suffering crisis pregnancy.”  Balch said it was reminiscent of 1800s and the newspaper ads for herbal medicines to “bring on menses”—self-abort

However Judge Harry Pregerson made short work of McCormack’s argument that she had standing to challenge the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act: “PUCPA was not even enacted at the time the criminal complaint was filed,” he wrote.

Nor did she face a threat of prosecution under Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, Pregerson noted. He also found unpersuasive McCormack’s “testimony that she would seek an abortion if she became pregnant again.”

As has been almost always the case, the stories about Tuesday’s legal maneuverings  talked little about the background to the case and why pro-abortionists were not eager to see McCormack challenge the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

McCormick said she thought she was about 12 weeks pregnant but was, in fact, 18-21 weeks pregnant. According to a story written for Newsweek by Nancy Hass, McCormack asked her sister to buy the RU486 over the Internet and send it to her (at a cost of around $200). No one recommends using RU486 past the ninth week of pregnancy.

When she saw the size of the baby she was scared, according to Hass. “She didn’t know what to do—‘I was paralyzed,’ she says—so she put it in a box on her porch, and, terrified, called a friend. That friend then called his sister, who reported McCormack to the police.”

Hass wrote that McCormack is “a bad case” for pro-abortionists.  “The fact that McCormack kept a 4-month-old fetus frozen in the winter chill on her back porch is the sort of ghoulish image pro-choice activists try to avoid.”

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