Good news came out of Idaho on Wednesday when the state legislature passed a bill to protect unborn babies by banning almost all abortions.
The Idaho Press reports the pro-life legislation, Senate Bill 1385, passed the House in a 49-18 vote, and now goes to Gov. Brad Little for final approval. The state Senate approved the bill earlier this month.
The legislation would ban abortions Idaho with limited exceptions for rape, incest and risks to the mother’s life. All other abortions would be considered a crime. The law would go into effect when states are allowed to ban abortions again, either because Roe v. Wade is overturned or an amendment is added to the U.S. Constitution.
Local news reports described the debate prior to the vote as intense and emotional, though the bill passed by a strong majority.
“We value life in the state of Idaho. We value women in the state of Idaho,” said state Rep. Julianne Young, R-Blackfoot, according to KPVI.
State Rep. Megan Blanksma, R-Hammett, the House Majority Caucus Chairwoman, also defended their measure to protect unborn babies, saying: “Everybody needs to face the consequences of their own personal choices because you’re asking a different life to face the consequences. It’s not seizing a woman’s body part when you get pregnant by choice. … The idea that you should always have a choice to make up your choice isn’t a real argument, it’s a false argument.”
Some lawmakers asked for changes to the bill to allow Idaho to ban abortions immediately, according to the report. However, other states have tried similar legislation, only to have it struck down in court. The U.S. Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion, and instead allowed abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. Roe v. Wade made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.
State Sen. Todd Lakey, R-Nampa, the lead sponsor of the bill, said he would protect unborn babies from abortion now if he could, but the courts will not allow it, the Idaho Press reported earlier this month.
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“Some of you may ask why now,” Lakey said. “We don’t know when the Supreme Court will change. But it may happen in the nine months when we’re not in session. The ability to take action is a question of time. If this bill can save the life of one unborn child, then it is worth it. It becomes effective without a need for future legislative action.”
Abortions will not immediately become illegal when the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Instead, the power to protect unborn babies or keep abortions legal will return to the states.
Some states already have legislation in place to ban abortions when that happens. Ohio and Utah are considering a similar bills this spring. In 2019, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky and Missouri also passed laws to ban abortions once Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Some states have tried to ban abortions right away or heavily restrict them through heartbeat laws and personhood legislation, but these laws consistently get struck down in court. When states lose, their taxpayers often are forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups’ legal fees.
There is more hope that the new conservative-majority U.S. Supreme Court may consider overturning Roe, but it is difficult to say if it would for certain. Last week, the high court heard a Louisiana abortion case that will show where the justices stand on the matter. A ruling is expected in June.