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Judge Permits Lawyer To Join Idaho Abortion Case as Plaintiff

Judge Permits Lawyer To Join Idaho Abortion Case as Plaintiff

June 8, 2012 — A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that a lawyer representing a woman who is challenging two Idaho abortion laws may enter the case as a plaintiff because he also is a physician, the AP/Miami Herald reports (Bonner, AP/Miami Herald, 6/6).

Rick Hearn represents Jennie Linn McCormack, an Idaho woman who terminated her own pregnancy in December 2010 using medication purchased over the Internet. McCormack was charged with the felony of performing an unlawful abortion, under a state law that bans anyone other than a health care professional from inducing an abortion. The charges later were dropped "without prejudice," meaning that the state could still file charges again.

Hearn filed a lawsuit seeking to affirm that McCormack has a right to take medication to induce an abortion and that physicians may prescribe the drugs. The suit also seeks to block Idaho's so-called "fetal pain" law, which bans abortion after 20 weeks of gestation.

Although a judge granted McCormack a temporary court order barring enforcement of the self-induced abortion statute, he said she did not have standing to challenge the fetal pain law because she was no longer pregnant when it took effect (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/18).

Hearn decided to join as a plaintiff to allow the case to move forward. Although Hearn has not practiced medicine for six years and has never performed an abortion, the court said he may intervene as a doctor (AP/Miami Herald, 6/6).