GOP indifferent as Idaho abortion ban causes widespread harm

By Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise
Reader Contributor

Health care decisions should be made by Idahoans and their doctors, not politicians. In the 15 months following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the harmful consequences of Idaho’s abortion ban are only accelerating. We are losing physicians, patients are suffering and the GOP lawmakers who brought us here are only making things worse. 

A new report from the Idaho Physician Well Being Action Collaborative, in partnership with the Idaho Coalition for Safe Healthcare, paints an alarming picture. Since Idaho’s draconian abortion ban took effect, Idaho has lost 22% of its practicing obstetric gynecologists. Only half of Idaho’s 44 counties have practicing OBGYNs. Recent closures of labor and delivery services in Sandpoint, Emmett and Caldwell are just the beginning. It is increasingly difficult to get appointments, patients face longer drives for routine care and emergencies and medical care is being denied outright. 

Rep. Lauren Necochea. File photo.

Jennifer, from Caldwell, discovered her fetus had a chromosomal abnormality with a 99% chance of miscarriage. And she was at risk of developing life-threatening conditions if the pregnancy continued. She had to travel to Oregon to receive necessary care. 

At a seven-week ultrasound, Kristin, from Boise, learned she had an anembryonic pregnancy that would result in a miscarriage. When Kristin tried to fill her prescription to protect her health as she faced her miscarriage, a pharmacist denied her the medication, citing Idaho’s abortion laws. 

Rather than addressing this growing crisis, Republican politicians are pushing further restrictions. 

Idaho Attorney General Raúl Labrador partnered with the Alliance Defending Freedom, a far-right organization, to challenge a woman’s access to abortion care in medical emergencies. The U.S. Supreme Court will take up the case in April and, in a shocking decision, has allowed Idaho to start enforcing the law prohibiting these emergency abortions unless the patient’s death is imminent. 

Sen. Dan Foreman, D-Viola, introduced legislation to remove the abortion ban’s exception for rape and incest — which is essentially unworkable anyway — so that even a 12-year-old would be forced to birth her rapist’s baby. Seventeen House Republicans voted against a bill aimed to restore Idaho’s maternal mortality committee the GOP disbanded last year. Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot, introduced a bill attempting to replace the term “fetus” with “preborn child” in Idaho law, to inject politically and emotionally charged language into statute. 

At the federal level, Republican Congressman Mike Simpson co-sponsored the extreme Life at Conception Act, which lacks protections for in vitro fertilization. 

The stakes are too high to ignore. Democrats in the Legislature are bringing forward a bill to restore reproductive freedoms, even though we can’t get a hearing. And we will continue fighting for your reproductive freedoms for as long as it takes.

Rep. Lauren Necochea is the House assistant Democratic leader, representing District 19 in Boise on the Environment, Energy and Technology; Resources and Conservation; Revenue and Taxation; and Ways and Means committees.

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