Day 3: GOP platform focuses on abortion restriction, primary elections

By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports

The Idaho Republican Party has approved changes to its platform that criminalize all abortions without exemptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother, as well as green-lighting restrictions to voting in future GOP primary elections. 

On the third day of the Idaho GOP Convention, delegates debated multiple proposed resolutions and platform changes, most of which passed.

Key changes to the platform included calling all abortion murder, criminalizing abortion and excluding exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape and incest. 

The platform does not include an exemption allowing abortion if the life of the mother is in lethal danger.

Platform changes

The Platform Committee, which is responsible for establishing the proposed platform of the Republican Party, approved nine changes that went before delegates Saturday. The party’s platform is not legally binding, nor does it establish law. The platform does, however, guide the direction that Republican legislators may take during the legislative session. 

On Saturday, party delegates approved changes to the party’s “American family” platform regarding abortion. The change states “We affirm that abortion is murder from the moment of fertilization. All children should be protected regardless of the circumstances of conception, including persons conceived in rape and incest.” 

The change also supports criminalizing abortion and strengthening Idaho’s constitution to protect “preborn children.”

Some delegates shared stories or concerns about ectopic pregnancies, which are non-viable pregnancies that endanger the mother, and suggested adding an exemption for abortion if the life of the mother is in “lethal danger.” A motion for amendment including that exception failed in a 412-164 vote. 

In an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg implants and begins growing outside the main cavity of the mother’s uterus, such as in the fallopian tube. The pregnancy is never viable, and without treatment, would threaten the mother’s life. 

Scott Herndon, who unseated Sen. Jim Woodward in District 1 and will be on the November ballot for a Senate seat, vocally opposed adding the exemption. Herndon argued that both lives, meaning fetus and mother, are of equal value in that situation.

Ectopic pregnancies are the leading cause of maternal death in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in the United States. 

Under “Health and Welfare,” the platform change proposed included a new section about informed consent, stating all persons receiving health care “should be able to exercise free power of choice without intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, overreaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion.” 

It also includes a change giving parents supreme authority over their children’s medical decisions. 

Under “Party Affiliation” the platform change would require voters to affiliate as a Republican for one year before being able to vote in the primary election. This platform proposal differs from a rule change proposal the delegates approved on Friday, which imposes stricter regulations on who may vote in the Republican primary. 

The platform changes also included supporting the repeal of the 16th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which is the right for Congress to tax income. 

Under “Education,” delegates proposed numerous changes, largely focusing on public funding for students who attend private schools, as well as parental rights around masks and vaccines. A new section outlined the party’s opposition to social justice indoctrination at any level in public schools. That includes critical race theory, transformative social emotional learning, diversity, equity, and inclusion, replacement theory, and queer theory.  


Delegates approved 13 resolutions on Saturday, and brought one resolution back from the dead after the announcement of Tom Luna’s loss as chairman of the party.

Every incumbent member of party leadership lost reelection on Saturday.

A resolution regarding the lawsuit filed against Bonneville County Central Committee by then-chair Tom Luna failed to make it out of the Resolutions Committee in a tie vote.

But after the announcement of Rep. Dorothy Moon’s win as the new chair, central committee chair Mark Fuller asked the delegates to bring the resolution back. Delegates agreed and passed it.

That resolution states “Chairman Luna or his successor shall immediately dismiss the litigation in Ada County … filed by Chairman Luna and the Idaho State Republican Party against Bonneville County Central Committee and Executive Committee, with prejudice.”

Luna filed the lawsuit in his capacity as chairman, against Bonneville County Republican Central Committee for making what he characterized as unauthorized donations to non-county level candidates. The May lawsuit called it a “blatant disregard” for statutory obligations.

Other resolutions that passed were similar to platform changes and addressed crossover voting in the primary election.

One resolution that passed would establish a special committee to handle crossover voting. It read “WHEREAS, encouraging people to crossover vote not only means your ideas suck, but you are completely fine with hypocritically telling others you have certain ideas and positions, when in reality you have others.”

The special committee would research and identify ways that crossover voting is used and relied upon.

Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, requested a minority report. During his debate, Thayn voiced concerns about the messaging, telling delegates the message looked like “we are more interested in keeping people out of the party,” and said that wasn’t his goal.

Two resolutions sponsored by Moon passed. One states the Republican Party supports partisan elections in all races, except for judicial elections. Several Idaho city council races are currently non-partisan.

Moon’s other resolution addresses voter identification, stating the party does not support the use of student ID cards at polls. The resolution also supports requiring voters to provide proof of citizenship and a valid photo ID to register to vote or to cast a ballot in all elections. The resolution is similar to a bill Moon sponsored during the 2022 legislative session that failed to pass.

Moon’s campaign for Secretary of State focused on similar voter identification and election security issues. 

Other resolutions affirmed the platform that American combat troops should not be used as “world policemen,” citing wars in Syria and Ukraine. Another resolution recommended creating safer internet access for children in Idaho. 

A resolution addressing “ESG Anti-Discrimination” or Enviornmental, Social, and Governance took aim at the Biden Administration’s climate-change goals.

All resolutions are non-binding on Idaho law.

<strong>Ruth Brown</strong> | Producer
Ruth Brown | Producer

Ruth Brown grew up in South Dakota and her first job out of college was covering the South Dakota Legislature. She’s since moved on to Idaho lawmakers. Brown spent 10 years working in print journalism, including newspapers such as the Idaho Statesman and Idaho Press, where she’s covered everything from the correctional system to health care issues. She joined Idaho Reports in 2021 and looks forward to telling stories about how state policy can impact the lives of regular Idahoans.

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