A doctor in Idaho, Rick Hearn, who said he wants to defend the underrepresented and disenfranchised, is a lawyer and a plaintiff in a case that would challenge the constitutionality of the state’s “fetal pain” law. With both a medical and a law degree, his role seems tailored to fit his unique education.
It’s an unusual move, but Hearn said it is necessary in order to ensure patients are completely protected if they chose to seek an abortion.
Hearn is representing a woman, Jennie Linn McCormack, who induced her own abortion and has since been criminally charged, because no one other than a health care professional is legally allowed to perform an abortion in the state.
McCormack was a single mother with a toddler and living off of child-support. The bare bones cost of an abortion would have been $500. That does not include the expenses of getting to the closest clinic three hours away.
McCormack did what many women have always done when they find themselves in similar situations – she sought out her own methods to get an abortion. She got RU-486 online and took it herself. After the induced abortion she realized she was much farther along in pregnancy than she had realized – maybe even as much as 20 weeks. If abortion was more accessible in the state, and less stigmatized, McCormack could have easily gone to a local clinic and taken the pill much earlier, or gotten an affordable abortion. But, limited access put her in a situation where she had to devise her own means to end the pregnancy.
McCormack’s charges have been dismissed, but because it was “without prejudice” she could face charges again. That’s why Hearn is defending McCormack – to protect her from the threat of further charges. Even though Hearn said he and his family would never seek an abortion, he insists that it is McCormack’s right to do so without facing criminal charges.
This may seem like common sense stuff to the pro-choice movement. And even most anti-choice individuals agree that women should not be criminally charged in abortion cases. But, McCormack’s case shows that no matter what people may feel the law in Idaho exists and jeopardizes the rights of women in a shocking way, much like laws in other states around the country.
Because the case is so unorthodox, it may be one that pro-choice groups are hesitant to support. It is one that could be shaky going up against a conservative Supreme Court.
But, it is important for pro-choice groups to stand behind the woman and the rights at stake. The current political climate and laws on the books in Red States are infringing on women’s rights and endangering the financial and emotional security of families.