After a tense three-hour hearing, the House State Affairs Committee has approved controversial anti-abortion legislation on a straight party-line vote, 13-4, with only the committee’s four Democrats objecting. David Ripley of Idaho Chooses Life, author of HB 154, said, “This is a mechanism for women to defend themselves and to hold people accountable for misdeeds.” The bill puts new restrictions on abortions that are performed via medication, rather than by surgery. Backers said it would avoid “web cam” abortions, where the patient never sees a doctor in person, though doctors and others testified that that’s not how medication-induced abortions are performed in Idaho.
“I just want to point out that I think from my perspective, telemedicine has great advantages,” said Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens. “It’s important to recognize cost savings, ease of use, accessibility. However, there are certain examinations and procedures which require personal hands-on exams, and I think this is one of them. I’m convinced that when a woman becomes pregnant she is no longer taking food for herself, but there is another now involved in the mother’s health, and this is a proper role of government to protect life.”
Rep. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, offered a substitute motion to send the bill to the House’s amending order and change it so that it places restrictions on any prescription delivered over telemedicine that exceeds a particular safety standard. “We have heard testimony from a doctor … that this a very safe and reliable form of abortion in the early term of pregnancy,” Wintrow said. “If this was about safety, we would not hear some of the arguments or discussion points about religion and separation of church and state.” Her motion failed on a 4-13 party-line vote; the committee then voted 13-4 to send the measure to the full House with a recommendation that it pass.
Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, said, “Other than the case of rape or incest, a person has willingly taken upon themselves the responsibility to nurture another life. And I think as legislators, then we have that responsibility to protect that life in the best way we know how.” Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, said, “In my view, HB 154 may indeed reduce the number of abortions that take place. And from the very beginning of my political career, I took the oath to protect the unborn child. And I know we all have different views on this subject, but because they are so helpless and so vulnerable, we’ve got to step up.”