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Legislators introduce bill to criminalize abortion in Idaho

Politics

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BOISE — Two Idaho representatives have proposed legislation that would allow the prosecution of abortion in Idaho, despite federal laws that make the practice legal.

Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, and Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, proposed the Idaho Abortion Human Rights Act on Thursday. If passed, the bill would repeal a current Idaho Law that allows legal abortion, then add a new section making it illegal for anyone to perform, obtain or attempt an abortion at conception.

“I’m 100% pro-life,” Nate told EastIdahoNews.com. “I think we should always have the opportunity to vote to protect life.”

Abortion has been a hot topic both at the state and federal level for decades. In 1973, the United States Supreme court ruled the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s right to chose to have an abortion, striking down many anti-abortion laws at the time. Despite this, lawmakers nationwide have battled to criminalize or completely legalize abortion.

“For years, pro-life advocates have had to be satisfied with small changes in protecting life legislation,” Nate said. “This bill ends the entire practice of abortion so that all innocent life can be protected.”

The proposed act would require the Idaho Attorney General to monitor the enforcement of the law and direct Idaho agencies to enforce it despite any conflicting federal laws, regulations, executive orders and court decisions.

“If Colorado can ignore the federal government on something like smoking marijuana, I think Idaho should ignore the federal government on something as important as protecting innocent life,” Nate said.

If a prosecuting attorney discovers a woman had an abortion, the act will allow them to offer immunity to the mother if she helps in the investigation or prosecution of people who performed the abortion.

Doctors and medical staff who are attempting to save the life of a pregnant patient that results in the death of an unborn person would not be violating the proposed anti-abortion law.

Scott first introduced the Idaho Abortion Human Rights Act in 2020, but the bill never made it to a full hearing. In 2019, Idaho passed legislation amended code to match federal law that bans partial-birth abortions. Current state law would also ban abortion if the 1973 case were overturned.

It’s not clear if this iteration of the bill will get a committee hearing. Nate said the Ways and Means Committee should hold a hearing, take testimony and vote on the bill. However, he says this a question of if they will. Democrat lawmakers oppose the proposed bill.

“It is clear the Legislative leadership in the House is not giving the bill a hearing because it is unconstitutional,” Idaho Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee spokeswoman Olivia Heersink said in a statement regarding the proposal.

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