Monday, March 2, 2015

Idaho House GOP Approves Chemical Abortion Restrictions

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 12:39 PM

The Idaho House overwhelmingly approved House Bill 154 Monday, which would place greater restrictions on Idaho abortions. The measure requires a physician to conduct an in-person exam and counseling to any pregnant woman before she's allowed to undergo a chemical abortion using RU-486.

The same bill triggered a flood of national media attention a week ago when, during a hearing before the Idaho House State Affairs Committee, Republican Rep. Vito Barbieri infamously asked a healthcare professional if a gynecological exam could be conducted when a woman swallowed a small camera.

"I really don't know how to begin this debate," said the bill's sponsor, Iona Rep. Tom Loertscher. "It's really a simple bill."

But what followed was anything but simple as the measure before the full House became a full-throated debate on a woman's right to choose. 

Democratic Rep. John Rusche, a physician, said that the bill, as written, could outlaw elements of RU-486 that are used for other purposes, such as treatment for post traumatic stress, ovarian, breast and prostate cancer, and even ulcers.

"We should be really clear whether this bill outlaws those drugs too," said Rusche. 

Democratic Rep. Melissa Wintrow said HB 154 wasn't about safety at all and instead, "Is one more way to try to restrict a woman's right protected under the Constitution to have a safe and legal abortion."

And Democratic Rep. Ilana Rubel argued that the measure, "Wasn't even brought forward by the medical community. Instead, it was driven by anti-abortion activists."

But a long list of Republican House members referenced the Bible or even personal letters from their own physicians in support of the bill.

"Our precious little adopted grandson," said Republican Rep. Linden Bateman, his voice cracking. "He came that close to be aborted."

Ultimately the GOP majority won, passing HB 154 on a vote of 55 to 14, on a straight party-line vote. The bill now heads to the Idaho Senate for its consideration.

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