Idaho House Committee OKs Bill for Conscience Rights for Pro-Life Medical Staff

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 11, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Idaho House Committee OKs Bill for Conscience Rights for Pro-Life Medical Staff

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 11
, 2010

Boise, ID ( — The House State Affairs Committee voted today along party lines in favor of a bill that would create statutory protections for health care professionals in specific areas of medical practice. The committee voted for the bill to protect pro-life advocates after two days of emotional testimony.

The bill that the Senate approved 21-13 now moves to the full House floor after the 13-5 vote for it from Republicans.

The committee voted for Rep. Crane’s motion to send the bill to the floor with a "do-pass" recommendation. Democrats Higgins and King made substitute motions to kill and/or amend the legislation. Those motions failed both failed 4-14.

The measure makes it so pro-life health care workers don’t have to fear for their jobs if they decide they don’t want to dispense drugs that could be used to cause abortions or kill patients at the end of their life.

Sen. Chuck Winder, the Boise Republican sponsor of SB 1353, has been deflecting charges from pro-abortion lawmakers that the bill is a "right-wing scheme" brought by a "bunch of religious fanatics," but rather an effort to legitimately protect medical workers.

“We’re not going to leave anybody in the lurch,” he said. “We’re not going to take away the rights of a patient.”

Rep. Elfreda Higgins, a Democrat, offered an amendment to water the bill down by removing the part about drugs used to kill patients, but it was rejected on a party line vote with Republicans oppose and Democrats favoring it.

Winder said he worked on the bill with the Idaho Hospital Association and Idaho Medical Association, which don’t oppose the plan as pro-abortion groups do.

On the Senate side, the Idaho Reporter indicated Sens. Shirley McKague and Russ Fulcher both spoke in favor of the bill.

“Licensed health care professionals also have conscience and they need to be protected,” Fulcher said. He added that it isn’t the intent of the legislation to change what health care workers are required to tell patients.

David Ripley, the director of Idaho Chooses Life, talked more about the bill after the Senate committee approved it.

"Opposition to the bill came largely from the abortion lobby because of their fears that it will create impediments to easy distribution of so-called emergency contraception," he said. "Much of the morning debate was taken up with a debate of how the drug works."

"Oddly enough, the debate was settled by the closing testimony of retired abortionist Duane St. Clair, who acknowledged that emergency contraception can sometimes cause the destruction of an embryo by making the uterine wall inhospitable to the new human life," he added.

Idaho Right to Life and the Catholic Diocese of Boise supported the legislation along with ICL and Dr. Will Rainford, representing Bishop Driscoll, emphasized the spiritual gravity of forcing Christian medical personnel to participate in medical procedures they know to be wrong.

Related web sites:
Idaho Choose Life –

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