Idaho legislators seek to make abortion murder

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BOISE — Two Idaho legislators are working on a bill that would make abortion murder in Idaho.

Rep. Heather Scott, (R-Blanchard), and freshman Rep. John Green, (R-Post Falls), released a draft of the Abortion Human Rights Act. The bill would repeal the Idaho statute exempting women or anyone participating in abortion from being charged with murder.

“If you look at our Idaho code, we define life as a fetus. And it’s considered murder if you kill a fetus,” Scott told EastIdahoNews.com. “But we just give an exemption if you have an abortion.”

Here’s what the law currently says:

  • Idaho code 32-102 defines an unborn child as a person. “A child conceived, but not yet born, is to be deemed an existing person so far as may be necessary for its interests, in the event of its subsequent birth,” the code reads.
  • The killing of a human embryo or fetus is included under Idaho’s murder statute, 18-4001. However, an exemption exists in Idaho Code 18-4016. The statute prohibits prosecuting the woman having an abortion and the person who performs the procedure.

Scott said, if passed, the Abortion Human Rights Act would repeal that exemption.

By repealing the exemption any abortion — without exception, such as risk to the mother’s life — performed in Idaho would be considered murder. The woman who had the abortion and the person who performed the abortion could both be prosecuted for murder.

“We either define life as a fetus, or we don’t,” Scott said. “A woman can go out of state if she needs an abortion. But we just wouldn’t do it in our state. We’ll protect life in our state.”

The Idaho Democratic Party declined to comment on the bill. Party spokeswoman Lindsey Snider said the party does not take stances on specific legislation. However, the 2018 Idaho Democratic Party platform says, “(The party) upholds an individual’s right to choose and their access to reproductive medical care.”

PREVIOUS LEGISLATIVE SESSION: Idaho lawmaker wants women, doctors charged with murder in abortion cases

Green said he rejects the idea the bill would go against federal law or Roe v. Wade. The 1973 United States Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion across the country.

If passed in Idaho, the proposed Abortion Human Rights Act could spur legal action against the state based on Roe v. Wade.

“This is about enforcing Idaho’s statutes and Idaho’s sovereignty,” Green said.

The proposed legislation would not allow the prosecution of anyone who has had or participated in an abortion in the past.

EastIdahoNews.com reached out to the Idaho Attorney General’s Office, but it declined to comment.

“The Office of the Attorney General does not comment on proposed legislating,” said Scott Graph, a spokesman for the office.

Scott and Green’s bill comes on the heels of New York’s newly passed abortion law, which would allow women to abort their pregnancies after 24 weeks if the fetus isn’t viable or to protect the woman’s life or health.

Sen. Dan Foreman (R-Moscow) proposed a similar bill in 2017. The bill would have charged women who had and doctors who performed abortions with first-degree murder. It did not find traction during the session.

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