Senate panel introduces bill banning most abortions in Idaho
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A panel of Idaho lawmakers has introduced a bill that would ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy — before many people know they are pregnant — by allowing extended family members of the patient to sue any doctor that performs one.
The legislation introduced on Friday from Blaine Conzatti, president of the anti-abortion organization Idaho Family Policy Center, is modeled on a similar law in Texas that is the most restrictive in the nation. The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed the Texas law to stay in place, and it is expected to remain that way for the foreseeable future as the legal options for Texas clinics have considerably narrowed. The U.S. Supreme Court is also expected to rule later this year year in a case out of Mississippi that could roll back abortion rights nationwide.
“Texas has blazed a pathway that we can follow, and needless to say the pro-life community is very excited,” Conzatti told the Senate State Affairs Committee on Friday. “We can save more than a thousand babies a year from the horror of abortion.”
Shortly after the bill was introduced on a party-line vote, Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates of Idaho issued a statement criticizing the legislation as an “end-run around the constitutional right to abortion.”
Under the legislation, even extended family members like a grandparent or uncle could sue a doctor if they believe the physician has performed an abortion on a relative after six weeks of pregnancy. Legislation attempting to stop abortions after the six-week mark is sometimes referred to as a “heartbeat bill,” because six weeks generally marks the time that a vaginal ultrasound can first detect electrical activity in a group of embryonic cells that may later develop into part of a fetus’ heart.
Sen. Michelle Stennett, a Democrat from Ketchum, asked Conzatti why he needed to “delve so far into the familial line,” allowing relatives who would otherwise have no claim on any child resulting from the pregnancy to have a say in a patient’s private health care choice.
Also, it could open the door for abusive family members to weigh in on a personal health matter, Stennett said.
Conzatti said the family members would be suing the doctor, not the woman.
“If this were to become law would be unlawful at that point, so the family members would be suing the doctor who performed that unlawful abortion,” he said.
Boise Democratic Sen. Grant Burgoyne said the bill was unconstitutional because it would put an undue burden on women seeking health care in violation of the landmark ruling in the abortions rights case Roe vs. Wade.
“The mere passage of this legislation is intended, and will cause, every abortion provider in Idaho to stop providing abortions in this state. That is an undue burden on a constitutional right,” he said.
Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman, the state director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, said in a prepared statement that the legislation “is sick, and it is wrong.”
“All Idahoans deserve the freedom to decide what is best for ourselves. But instead of fighting for our freedoms, these legislators are deputizing everyday Idahoans to become intrusive vigilantes who spy on their family members for cash rewards,” DelliCarpini-Tolman said. “This bill is an attack on our privacy and endangers everyone’s safety — all in the name of ending access to an essential health care service.”
This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the first name of Blaine Conzatti.
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