When pro-choice activists warn that restrictive abortion laws harm women in rural areas the most, Jennie Linn McCormack is who they're talking about. In June, McCormack was charged with having an illegal abortion after police found a fetus in a box in her home that was between five and six months gestation. McCormack says she took abortion-inducing drugs she found online because she didn't have enough money to get a legal abortion. When she got pregnant she was unmarried and unemployed and making only $200 to $250 a month. She already has three children and couldn't spend the time or money necessary to travel from her home in southeastern Idaho to Salt Lake City for an abortion. The charges against McCormack were dropped, but now she's challenging the laws she allegedly violated in what's believed to be the first lawsuit to argue "fetal pain" restrictions are unconstitutional.
In the past two years, Idaho, Kansas, Alabama, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Nebraska, have banned abortions after 20 weeks, arguing that that's when fetuses can feel pain. (Anti-choice activists aren't all that interested in the scientific evidence that this isn't true.) The Associated Press reports that now McCormack is seeking class-action status in a lawsuit that challenges the idea of "fetal pain" as well as other aspects of Idaho's abortion law. A judge dismissed the case against her without prejudice for lack of evidence, which means that the prosecutor could refile she charges — unless McCormack is successful in having the laws declared unconstitutional.