New abortion bill introduced, clarifies ‘life of the mother’ exemption
By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
The House State Affairs Committee introduced a new bill Monday addressing medical complications that would justify terminating a pregnancy.
The bill comes after a previous bill brought by House Majority Leader Rep. Megan Blanksma, R-Hammett, was introduced but didn’t get a hearing.
Idaho law only allows abortion in cases of reported rape or incest, or to save the life of the mother.
One of the biggest changes in the bill is around when a physician can terminate a pregnancy for the life of the mother. The bill removes the law’s affirmative defense provision and instead lists exemptions to the law that are non-criminal abortion.
The bill states if the physician determined “in his good faith medical judgement” that the abortion is necessary to prevent the woman’s death, an abortion may be induced. Blanksma’s first bill, which didn’t get a hearing, included an exemption for doctors “to treat a physical condition of the woman that if left untreated would be life-threatening.” The bill introduced on Monday did not include that language.
The bill says abortions shall not be deemed necessary to prevent the death of a woman because the physician believes that the mother may or will harm herself. That provision existed in law before the overturn of Roe v. Wade allowed the state to ban abortion outright.
The bill clarifies that IUDs and birth control pills are not abortions. It also clarifies there are exemptions for the removal “of a dead unborn child,” “the removal of an ectopic or molar pregnancy” and the treatment of “a woman who is no longer pregnant.”
It outlines that victims of rape or incest may be granted an abortion, but only in the first trimester of her pregnancy, if the rape or incest was reported to law enforcement or CPS. Should the bill pass, the victim would be entitled to receive upon request a copy of the police report within 72 hours of the report being made, even if the report is redacted in part to avoid interference with an open investigation.
The bill does still include a mandatory minimum prison sentence of two years and up to five years for any physician who conducts an abortion outside of the narrow exemptions.
“I’m incredibly disappointed, and it’s clear that our state is in a crisis pertaining to being able to provide good, adequate care for our women, whether it be during their pregnancy or prior to their pregnancy. We are losing good physicians as a result of already existing archaic laws in place,” Rep. Brooke Green, D-Boise, said.
She took with issue with Idaho only addressing the life of the mother and not the health of the mother.
“We have done nothing to protect the women during their pregnancies,” Green said. “And for somebody who just had baby, this is appalling to sit here and to read this, and to know we’re doing nothing in this state to ensure the protection of women while they carry their children. I’m sick to my stomach.”
Committee Chairman Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, reminded Green not to impugn motives.
“I think it would be unfair to say that we have done nothing,” Crane said.
Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, took issue with some medical issues not being included in the bill. He also took issue with the threat of a prison sentence when Idaho has a shortage of physicians.
Crane said the bill will get a public hearing before House State Affairs on either Tuesday or Wednesday.