Idahoans value their freedom to make personal decisions without government interference. When Roe v. Wade fell last summer, this freedom was stripped away. One year later, Idahoans are experiencing the harsh consequences. Patients are being denied medical care even when their health is at risk. In cases of heartbreaking, unsurvivable fetal anomalies, families must leave the state. And medical providers are fleeing this hostile environment. In this dire situation, Republican lawmakers are not only indifferent, they are actively making things worse.
This makes our fight forward more important than ever before.
Idaho has one of the most extreme abortion bans in the country. Not only does the law have near-unworkable exceptions for victims of rape and incest but it also allows the rapist’s family members to sue for cash awards and has zero exceptions for some of the most serious pregnancy complications. Rather than face the impossible choice to withhold medically necessary care or face prison time, doctors and nurses are leaving Idaho, forcing some rural hospitals to end their labor and delivery services.
Terrifyingly, Republicans in the Idaho Legislature continue to double down on their anti-abortion agenda, passing laws to mandate police investigation into pregnancy loss and restrict interstate travel. These laws go beyond abortion. They are about who has power over you, who has the authority to make decisions for you, and who can control your future.
Polling shows that a majority of Idahoans support access to abortion and even more reject the extremist positions of the Idaho Republican Party platform to criminalize all abortions with zero exemptions for rape, incest, or when the life of the patient hangs in balance. Knowing this, Idaho GOP Chair Dorothy Moon and her allies are actively working to consolidate power and ignore the will of voters. At their summer meeting this week, a small group of party elites will vote on a proposal to eliminate the direct popular election of public officeholders.
Regardless of your political affiliation, all Idahoans should be concerned about this blatant authoritarianism.
As I travel across the state, I sense an energy that hasn’t been felt since the days of Cecil Andrus and Frank Church. Idaho is leading the nation in the increase of young people and women registering to vote for the first time. These voters are making it clear that personal freedom, bodily autonomy, and the ability to make their own healthcare decisions are top issues. And for the first time in more than two decades, Idaho Democrats are preparing to have candidates run in every single legislative district in 2024.
From defending our democracy to safeguarding our freedoms, the stakes have never been higher. Idaho Democrats are rising to meet this moment in history.
Lauren Necochea, Idaho Democratic Party Chair