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Idaho passes trigger bill that criminalizes abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned

Photo by Mackenzie Hudson

On March 27, Idaho Gov. Brad Little signed an anti-abortion ‘trigger bill’ that would criminalize those giving abortions in all cases other than rape, incest or endangerment to the life of the mother. The exception of rape and incest would only apply with a police report. 

The bill was to be put into order if the landmark case Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal in most states, was overturned by the Supreme Court. The possibility of the case being overturned is possible with Amy Coney Barrett being confirmed as associate justice on Oct. 26. The law would criminilaze the doctors and phsycisans performing the abortions, not the women. Doctors would be charged with a felony and could have their licenses revoked. 

On March 12, the trigger bill was passed by the Idaho Senate along party lines with all present Republicans voting yes and all Democrats voting no. Democratic Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb of District 19 voiced her opposition to the bill during a debate because of its attack on “high quality respectful patient care.” Buckner-Webb stated that illegal abortions will kill people and that “banning abortion does not make it magically go away.”

Annika Henderson, a senior and global studies major at Boise State University and women’s rights activist, believes that no politician should have a voice in the decisions that a woman makes with her body.

“A ban on the procedure of abortions with a few exceptions means that women in cases outside of those exceptions will result to possibly dangerous, at-home procedures,” Henderson said. “Every situation is unique and placing standards like these on something as sensitive as abortion could have disastrous effects.” 

A Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade would put abortion policy decisions back into the hands of indiviudal states. Idaho is a conservative-leaning state and has not had favoring views towards abortion rights.

The Spokesman-Review reported that some of the Republicans who opposed the bill said that “they wanted abortion in cases of incest or rape made illegal” and insisted that Idaho does not need to obey Supreme Court rulings.

[Photo of the Idaho Capitol building]
Photo by Mackenzie Hudson | The Arbiter

Republican Sen. Todd Lakey, the bill’s main sponsor, has said that the life of the mother comes secondary to the life of her unborn child. In an article by the Idaho Press, Lakey is quoted as saying “if this bill can save the life of one unborn child, then it is worth it. It becomes effective without a need for future legislative action,” suggesting republicans are impatient to see the bill into action and may not wait until the Supreme Court reviews Roe v. Wade. 

With the appointment of Barrett to the Supreme Court, some Americans are fearful that the landmark case will be overturned by the 6-3 conservaitve majority. Barrett, a devout Catholic, has been pro-life throughout her career. She was a member of an anti-abortion right-to-life group in 2016 that promoted a “crisis pregnancy center” in South Bend, Indiana where women were pursuaded against having abortions. 

Democratic Rep. Melissa Wintrow feels that men who are responsible for unplanned pregnancies should be held accountable for their actions. 

“I don’t think that we are treating this fairly, and if we really were, we would hold the impregnator as responsible as the female, and we’re the ones who have to deal with it in the end,” Wintrow said during a congressional debate over the bill. 

Henderson belives that no woman who had or considered an abortion does so without serious consideration of how the decision will impact her overall health. 

“These women need to feel loved and supported, not demonized. No woman should be forced to bear a child for which she is not mentally, physically and emotionally prepared for,” Henderson said.

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