Eye On Boise

20-week abortion ban wins final passage in the House on 54-14 vote

SB 1165, to ban abortion after 20 weeks on grounds of fetal pain, has passed the House on a 54-14 vote and now goes to the governor's desk. The bill's House sponsor, Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, shared several stories of people who bore their children rather than having abortions, despite difficult circumstances including illness. If they hadn't, he said at the conclusion of one of the stories, "America would not have been blessed with Beethoven." Crane told the House that the "hand of the Almighty" was at work. "His ways are higher than our ways," Crane said. "He has the ability to take difficult, tragic, horrific circumstances and then turn them into wonderful examples."

The bill makes no exceptions for rape, incest, severe fetal abnormality or the mental or psychological health of the mother; only when the pregnancy threatens the mother's life or physical health could a post-20-week abortion be performed. An Idaho Attorney General's opinion said the bill is unconstitutional because it violates the Roe vs. Wade decision regarding state restrictions on abortions prior to the point of fetal viability; but backers said they're prepared to defend it in court. "Is not the child of that rape or incest also a victim?" asked Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton. "It didn't ask to be here. It was here under violent circumstances perhaps, but that was through no fault of its own."

Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, said the bill would force parents of non-viable infants with severe deformities who won't survive to carry the pregnancy to term, rather than letting them decide how to react to the situation on their own. "These diagnoses were made right at about 20 weeks," said Rusche, a pediatrician who has handled three such cases. "To knowingly force someone to carry a baby to term when they know it's not going to survive I think is cruel," he said. All 13 of the House's Democrats voted against the bill; they were joined by one Republican, Rep. Tom Trail, R-Moscow; while two other Republicans missed the vote.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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