Idaho lawmaker wants women, doctors charged with murder in abortion cases
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BOISE — Though it’s his first term in the Idaho Senate, Republican Sen. Dan Foreman of Moscow is planning to propose a bill that would charge women who get abortions, and the doctors who perform them, with first-degree murder.
Not only is abortion immoral, according to Foreman, a 63-year-old retired Air Force officer and retired Moscow police officer, it should be illegal.
“I think Roe v. Wade is a disgrace,” Foreman said. “It lies in the face of the U.S. Constitution, our Constitution here in Idaho, and it just lies in the face of common sense.”
Foreman said the majority of Americans, especially those in his district, want to abolish abortion.
With the new bill, the only time a woman or her doctor would not be charged with first-degree murder, are cases where the woman’s life is endangered. First-degree murder is punishable by up to life in prison, and in some instances, the death penalty.
“The bill makes no exception for incest or rape,” Foreman said. “We are still faced with looking at the death of an innocent child. Why should the child pay for the sins of the person who committed the rape or the incest?”
He continued, “We’re right back to square one. We still have a child. Though it may be unwanted, it’s still a human being.”
Other Idaho lawmakers do not share the same sentiments.
“From a woman’s standpoint, how dare somebody else decide what I should do with my body?” said Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, a Boise Democrat and the assistant minority leader. “From a constitutional standpoint, in the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions, including her decision to have an abortion.”
Buckner-Webb doesn’t believe the measure will make it to the Senate floor, based on constitutionality. However, if it were to reach that level, she said that on behalf of the women in Idaho she would do everything in her power to ensure it never became law.
Foreman said that if a child is unwanted, it could be put up for adoption or raised by a family member, and that abortion has become an act of convenience for the most part.
“People find themselves, in many cases, with unwanted pregnancies and the easy answer is to just terminate the baby,” he said. “We’re looking at killing innocent kids, and it’s not up to us to just kill it to solve someone else’s personal problem. I hear women who are advocates of abortion talk all the time saying, ‘You can’t tell me what to do with my body.’”
But according to Foreman, this legislation isn’t telling a woman what to do with her body; it’s telling her she can’t tell an innocent baby what to do with his or her body.
“She can’t decide to take life away from somebody else,” he said. “This country’s been saddled with this nonsense long enough, and that’s why I’m responding to the wishes of my constituents and bringing this legislation forward.”
Rep. Randy Armstrong, R-Pocatello, also in his first term, is strongly against abortion but disagrees with the aggressiveness of the bill.
“It’s far enough out there that I’m certain it has no chance of passing,” he said. “I don’t think this type of legislation is beneficial to the conversation about doing something productive about abortion. Nobody is going to be in favor of criminalizing abortion at this point.”
He added that abortion is a delicate issue and though he doesn’t agree with the intensity of the proposed legislation, which is still being drafted, he doesn’t want to come across as pro-choice.
“I personally would like to see something done about (abortion), but it’s way further than what society can handle at this point,” he said. “Or if it’s something we’ll ever be ready to handle.”
According to Idaho statutes, the killing of an unborn fetus or embryo is in fact murder. However, the prosecution of committing such offenses have been suspended.
Foreman said that medical science and mankind can’t get hung up on semantics and definitions when it comes to determining if an unborn child is a human being.
“We don’t have the ability to know at exactly what point life starts and people say, ‘Well how can you bring legislation?’ I say, ‘How can you not bring legislation?’” Foreman said. “If you don’t know exactly the moment a baby becomes a human being, the only decent, moral, safe and sensible thing to do is to err on the safe side.”
A Coeur d’Alene-based grassroots group, Abolish Abortion Idaho, is also attempting to introduce a ballot measure that would charge mothers who have abortions and the doctors who perform them with murder.
“We’ve been working on this for about nine months,” said spokesman Scott Herndon. “It’s an initiative petition to actually just remove the prohibition on the prosecution of anybody involved in an abortion as it currently exists in the murder code.”
Herndon said that he agrees with Foreman in that no exception should be granted if a woman were charged with murder after an abortion, except in cases where the woman’s life is in danger.
“Since we believe abortion is murder, then we don’t see that there should be any difference just because the father of the baby happened to rape the mother,” he said. “We don’t want the child to pay for the crimes of the father. A baby shouldn’t die just because they were conceived by a criminal act. The same with incest.”
Similar abortion laws are proposed in Idaho every year. However, the most recent bill that was adopted was quickly overturned by a federal court.
House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, believes that no matter the political affiliation, Foreman’s bill seems excessive.
“Both Republicans and Democrats can all agree that we care about the life of the mother and of the child,” Erpelding said. “And Foreman’s bill is way beyond anything that is acceptable to either side.”
This story was originally published in the Idaho State Journal. It is used here with permission.