by Steven Ertelt
April 11, 2008
Boise, ID (LifeNews.com) — In what could possibly be the first of its kind in the nation, the governor of Idaho has signed a new law that helps prevent women from being pressured or coerced into having an abortion. Governor Butch Otter signed HB 654 into law yesterday after easy passage through the state legislature.
The bill makes it a crime to threaten or harass a pregnant woman into having an abortion.
The measure targets the frequent occurrence of a woman’s partner coercing or pressuring her into having an abortion she otherwise wouldn’t want.
The Idaho Senate voted last month 29-6 to create the crime of abortion-coercion and Otter signed the bill into law Thursday. The Idaho House chamber voted 55-11.
The bill applies to cases when someone would threaten a pregnant woman or inflict injury or death on her in pressuring her to have an abortion. Should the crime involve an act of violence it would become a felony instead of a misdemeanor.
Idaho Chooses Life is the main pro-life group behind the bill and the organization told LifeNews.com it appears to be a first.
"It is an historic, if modest, step forward.We believe Idaho is the first state in the Union to specifically recognize the crime of abortion coercion," David Ripley said.
"What makes this new law modest is the very narrow scope of proscribed behavior largely physical assault or threats of physical assault designed to force a woman into choosing abortion. By definition, such action would only be criminal if the woman or girl wanted to keep her baby," he explained.
"That is part of what makes the law historic," Ripley added.
The new law also provides for a civil right of action to help women not have to rely on a local prosecutor to bring forth charges. The woman can seek civil damages even if she doesn’t undergo an abortion.
"This is undoubtedly progress. And we thank Governor Otter for his support of this bill," Ripley concluded.
Right to Life of Idaho also supports it because it would "protect a pregnant woman from being coerced into having an abortion."
ACTION: Contact Governor Otter and thank him for signing HB 464 into law.