An Idaho Senate committee advanced a pro-life bill Tuesday to protect unborn babies from abortion once their heartbeats are detectable. The new measure is a revised version of legislation the panel previously passed that corrects a wording error.
After passing the Republican-led Senate State Affairs Committee, the measure now goes to the full Senate and has already cleared the House.
Sponsored by state Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Caldwell, and Rep. Steven Harris, R-Meridian, the bill would prohibit abortions once an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable, about six weeks of pregnancy. Exceptions would be allowed for rape, incest or threats to the mother’s life.
A number of states have passed heartbeat laws in recent years, but all have been banned from enforcing them due to legal challenges by abortion activist groups. States with heartbeat laws include Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio and Tennessee. So this bill contains a trigger provision that would take effect only if a court in the U.S. upholds another heartbeat law.
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Blaine Conzatti, executive director of Family Policy Alliance of Idaho, encouraged state lawmakers to join the other states that have passed heartbeat laws.
“With this important legislation, Idaho has the opportunity to join the ranks of nearly one dozen other states who have passed Heartbeat laws to protect human life,” Conzatti said in a statement. “Preborn babies with beating hearts deserve the same constitutional right to life accorded to any other living person.”
The pro-life organization pointed to medical evidence that estimates 90 to 98 percent of unborn babies whose heartbeat is detected early in the pregnancy will survive to term.
The South Carolina and Texas legislatures also are considering heartbeat bills this year along with the state of Oklahoma.
Americans support strong limits on abortion. A 2019 Hill-HarrisX survey found that 55 percent of voters said they do not think laws banning abortions after six weeks – when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detectable – are too restrictive. Gallup polls also consistently have found that a majority of Americans think all or most abortions should be illegal.
Some pro-lifers have renewed hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold an abortion ban and overturn Roe v. Wade. Others, however, are hesitant because of concerns about losing the court battle and being forced to reimburse pro-abortion groups for their legal fees.
Though a majority of the justices are Republican appointees, Chief Justice John Roberts has sided with the liberal justices on a number of occasions.
In 1973, the Supreme Court took away the states’ ability to protect unborn babies from abortion under Roe v. Wade, and instead forced states to legalize abortion on demand. Roe made the United States one of only seven countries in the world that allows elective abortions after 20 weeks.