Idaho Pro-Life Group Sues State to Enforce Right to Know Abortion Law

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 19, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Idaho Pro-Life Group Sues State to Enforce Right to Know Abortion Law

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 19, 2004

Boise, ID ( — A pro-life group in Idaho has sued the state saying it has been lax in enforcing a pro-life law that requires abortion businesses to make information to women considering abortion about its risks and alternatives.

The lawsuit filed by Idaho Chooses Life Alliance (ICL) names pro-life Governor Dirk Kempthorne (R) and the state health department and it says the state should be enforcing the 1983 pro-life law.

"It is scandalous that women have committed themselves to those decisions only to learn later what the consequences are to them to their souls and their families," David Ripley, president of ICL told the News 2 television station.

Ripley said the law requires the state to publish an impartial brochure detailing abortion risks and a list of agencies that offer abortion alternatives. He said the pamphlet should also provide information about fetal development and pictures of unborn children at various stages of development during pregnancy.

Similar pro-life laws in other states have proven effective in reducing the number of abortions by as much as one-third.

Though the law has been on the books for 20 years, a brochure has never been published.

At one point, the health department, from 1998-2003, simply reused an old Ohio brochure required under a similar law there. In addition to outdated information, the brochure includes a toll-free number for help that has been disconnected. While thousands of abortions were performed during that time, only 300 of the old Ohio brochures were distributed.

Ripley says the state needs to publish a new pamphlet that is Idaho-specific.

Ripley hopes to resolve the matter out of court and encourages pro-life Idaho residents to call Governor Kempthorne and encourage him to make the health department follow the law.

He said he met with the governor’s staff several times but filed the lawsuit only after the governor’s office failed to follow-up with a specific timetable for producing the brochure.

Kempthorne press secretary Mike Journee said the governor had not reviewed the lawsuit.

The lawsuit asks the Idaho Supreme Court to require the department to enforce the law.

"The pro-abort bureaucrats in control of the [health] department have used a ‘pocket-veto’ of the Legislature’s policy," Ripley added.

Dr. Roger Neuenschwander, Lifeline Crisis Pregnancy Center, three women who had abortions, and parents of three teenagers joined with ICL in filing the lawsuit.

Barbara Gough, who had an abortion and joined the ICL lawsuit, told News 2 that the aftereffects were damaging and she turned to drugs an alcohol to fight the depression of losing her baby.

"I attempted suicide within the first year," Gough said.

Gough said if she had been better informed about the consequences she may have chosen another course instead of abortion.

Ripley estimates that more than 25,000 abortions have been performed in the state since the law and that the number would be lower if all of the women had been given the information required by the law.

ACTION: Contact Governor Kempthorne at 700 West Jefferson, 2nd Floor, PO Box 83720, Boise, Idaho 83720-0034. You can fax a letter to 208-334-2175 or fill out an email form at