Court: Idaho woman can't challenge fetal pain law

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A federal appeals court on Tuesday ended an Idaho woman's challenge of a law banning some abortions that might cause fetal pain, saying she didn't have legal standing to contest it because she wasn't charged with that crime.

The development came in a broader lawsuit filed by Jennie Linn McCormack, who is believed to be the first person in the nation to sue over bans on conducting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the premise that the fetus might feel pain. Idaho and several other states have the bans.

However, the court didn't close the door on all challenges to the fetal pain law. McCormack's lawyer, who is also a doctor and her co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, can still fight the ban in federal courts.

The appellate court also ruled Tuesday that some other Idaho abortion laws are likely unconstitutional, including one barring medication-induced abortions.

The decision was largely a win for McCormack, a Pocatello resident who sued Bannock County Prosecutor Mark Hiedeman after she was charged in May 2011 with having an illegal abortion.

Hiedeman alleged that McCormack used drugs she obtained over the Internet to terminate her pregnancy, which was more than five months along. The law requires that health professionals be involved in ending a pregnancy, and it carries a possible five-year sentence for a conviction.

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