That friend failed to keep McCormack’s secret; in May 2011, prosecutors charged her with violating a 1972 statute which prohibits Idaho women from procuring abortions outside clinical settings — a crime for which, had she been found guilty, McCormack could have been sentenced to up to five years in prison. The charges were dismissed without prejudice in September 2011, after which dismissal McCormack immediately sued the attorney who had attempted to prosecute her. An appeals court ruled in September 2012 that it would be legally and constitutionally anomalous to continue pursuing the case against McCormack; it has not been the practice of the Supreme Court, or of any other American court since Roe v. Wade, to allow the prosecution of individual women for the “crime” of seeking or obtaining a medical procedure whose legality in the context in which it is most often performed has been upheld by multiple courts on multiple occasions.
McCormack has also challenged the constitutionality of an Idaho law banning most abortions after twenty weeks’ gestation. This past Wednesday, the district judge to whom the appeals court remanded the case not only reaffirmed McCormack’s standing to make such a challenge (which had been in dispute) but also held the ban itself unconstitutional.
The district court’s decision was handed down on the same day on which the Arkansas legislature passed an abortion ban covering all non-therapeutic procedures performed after twelve weeks’ gestation. The most restrictive such law in the country, it is almost certainly unconstitutional, and it was originally vetoed by Arkansas governor Mike Beebe on the basis of the fact that it will be practically impossible to defend in court. No matter: the Arkansas legislature needed to make a political statement. Next to that, what are the rights of women like Jennie Linn McCormack worth?