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State of Idaho settles lawsuit over pregnancy language in living wills

by | Feb 4, 2022

By Dave Andrusko

A little less than a year after U.S. District Judge Lynn B. Winmill ruled that Idaho law “cannot require people capable of pregnancy to include language that voids their living wills if they are pregnant,” four women have settled their lawsuit against the state.

“The state of Idaho will no longer include a stipulation in its living will template that would force pregnant women to stay on life support until the fetus can be viable outside the womb,” James Dawson reported. The line read, “If I have been diagnosed as pregnant, this Directive shall have no force during the course of my pregnancy.”

The women sued the state in 2018. Officials removed the template from several state websites after the women filed their lawsuit, “though it was still available online through the Idaho Secretary of State.” 

The state had appealed Judge Winmill’s decision “before entering into the settlement last month,” Dawson reported.

Winmill wrote that the provision of “Idaho’s Medical Consent and Natural Death Act that stipulated exclusions for pregnant people ‘violates the constitutional right of a competent person to refuse unwanted lifesaving medical treatment.’” 

He added, “Women do not lose these rights because they are pregnant when they fall into a coma.”

The new template has three options for women to choose from:

*If I have been diagnosed as pregnant, this Directive shall be honored in its entirety during the course of my pregnancy

*If I have been diagnosed as pregnant, I direct the following treatment shall or shall not be withheld or withdrawn

*If I have been diagnosed as pregnant, my instructions regarding medical care shall have no force during my pregnancy except that my healthcare agent is authorized to make such decisions for me

As part of the settlement, state officials also admit no wrongdoing.

Categories: Judicial
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