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What a squeaker!

Sandpoint Sen. Shawn Keough’s passionate defense of SB 1140, a measure to expand family planning services to more low-income Idaho women, helped pull off a one-vote victory today, as the bill passed the Senate on an 18-17 vote. Keough and other backers, including Senate Health & Welfare Chairman Dick Compton, R-Coeur d’Alene, said the measure was one of the few ways Idaho can do something constructive to reduce future Medicaid expenses. Keough noted that nearly 40 percent of Idaho’s births now are paid for by Medicaid.

The bill would provide family planning services, including prenatal care and contraception, but not abortion. However, opponents said it would fund organizations like Planned Parenthood, and tried to tie the measure to everything from abortion to homosexuality.

“I know this is an emotional debate for a lot of folks,” Keough told the Senate, “but this is an important issue, one we cannot ignore.”

All of North Idaho’s senators backed Keough, except for Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake. The bill now moves to the House.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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