Lawmaker’s attempt to remove rape and incest exceptions from criminal abortion statutes fails in committee

Last week, legislation passed through the House State Affairs Committee to withhold state tax revenues from local governments that do not enforce Idaho’s criminal abortions statutes.
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 10:28 AM MST
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BOISE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —The Idaho legislature has been in for about a week now, and lawmakers are already introducing legislation to strengthen Idaho’s abortion laws.

Last week, legislation passed through the House State Affairs Committee to withhold state tax revenues from local governments that do not enforce Idaho’s criminal abortions statutes. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Bruce D. Skaug

This legislation amends the No Public Funds for Abortion Act. Technical corrections are made along with clarifications. The new section adds 18-8709 to provide for withholding ofsales and use tax revenuesfrom local government entities that issue proclamations, or take similar actions, to defy state law and refuse to investigate or enforce Idaho criminal abortion statutes. Said funds may be released to an offending local government if compliance occurs within a certain time. Should the local government entity not comply, said funds shall be forfeited and deposited in the state general fund.

RS29978 / H0002

On Monday In the Senate State Affairs Committee, Sen. Scott Herndon introduced legislation to remove the rape and incest exemptions from the Idaho Criminal Abortion Law and the Fetal Heartbeat Law. Currently rape, incest and life of the mother are the only exceptions under the idaho criminal abortion statutes.

“If you are arguing for a constitutional right to life, how can you have these exceptions?,” said Herndon. “I want to advance the equal protection of our laws in the State of Idaho to advance the cause of the constitutional right to life for all persons in the State of Idaho, and that is the purpose of this legislation before you today.”

The proposed legislation did not make it out of committee, and Democratic Senators Melissa Wintrow and James Ruchti were very vocal in their opposition of the proposed legislation.

Both could not fathom the idea of a minor who was raped, being forced to carry a fetus to term or being prosecuted.

Under Idaho law, criminal abortion is a felony, punishable up to five years in prison.

“For the government to require young women or victims of those acts to have to carry to term the fetus just seems like such an overwhelming overstep of government in our lives,” said Ruchti.

Sen. Herndon introduced another piece of abortion legislation to protect medical experts who unintentionally kill a fetus or embryo during a medical procedure. The proposed legislation was approved for printing and might make it to a Senate floor hearing.

This legislation amends Idaho’s criminal abortion law, section 18-622, to change the definition of abortion. The key effect is to put the focus on whether a living human child is being killed, and this legislation offers clarity on medical intervention in the case of ectopic pregnancy and other medical situations.

RS29982 / S1002