Idaho Sends Bill for Conscience Rights for Pro-Life Medical Staff to Governor

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 16, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Idaho Sends Bill for Conscience Rights for Pro-Life Medical Staff to Governor

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 16
, 2010

Boise, ID ( — The Idaho state legislature put the finishing touches on a measure that would create statutory protections for health care professionals in specific areas of medical practice.

House members passed the bill 51-19 on a mostly party line vote with Democratic Rep. Branden Durst of Boise and James Ruchti of Pocatello joining GOP lawmakers.

Only two Republicans voted against the measure (George Eskridge of Sandpoint and Tom Trail of Moscow).

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.

The House sponsor for the legislation, Rep. Tom Loertscher, refuted opposition from AARP saying that the bill doesn’t deny people health care or make health decisions for them.

Reps. Rusche and Burgoyne made formal statements of opposition and debate was closed. Much of the energetic opposition to the legislation was spent yesterday during a floor session, in which Rusche attempted to move the bill to the amending order in order to remove conscience protections in end-of-life situations.

House Democrats failed in a bid to halt the bill over the end-of-life provisions, which AARP called problematic.

“The deathbed is the wrong place to learn someone else’s conscience,” said David Irwin, who represents AARP at the state capitol.

David Ripley of Idaho Choose Life, which supported the bill, commented on the day’s actions.

"As the legislation moved through the Capitol, the focal point of opposition shifted from emergency contraception to end-of-life treatment and care," he said.

"By the time the legislation arrived in the House, the AARP became the most vocal opponent, expending big resources to mislead seniors into believing that SB1353 would deprive them of rights under Idaho’s Living Will statute. In fact, the legislation which gained final legislative approval today does nothing to change patient rights," Ripley explained. "But it does make clear that no patient can force a medical professional to violate his or her conscience."

Ripley also said, "This legislation may, in fact, become a vital part of protecting patients under the threatened health care rationing now on the verge of passage by Congress."

Sen. Chuck Winder, the Boise Republican sponsor of SB 1353, had 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.”

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.

ACTION: Contact the governor to support the bill at

Related web sites:
Idaho Choose Life –

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