Idaho is home. It’s where many of us were raised and where we chose to raise our families. But as a mother of two daughters, I can no longer encourage them to settle here. This breaks my heart, but Idaho’s cruel laws deny their freedoms and put them at risk if they ever become pregnant. Countless families face the same gut-wrenching dilemma. Sadly, Idaho’s extreme abortion ban is just one example of the legislature’s growing hostility to girls and women.
Roe v. Wade protected Idahoans from the most extreme positions of its Republican lawmakers. Once it was overturned, Idaho’s hardline abortion ban took effect. 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 if the victim receives an abortion. Terrifyingly, the ban has zero exceptions to protect the patient’s health and future fertility.
Despite warnings from medical experts about the dangerously restrictive language, Republican politicians refused to act. Instead, they doubled down on their far-right agenda.
Knowing the risks their abortion laws pose for patients, Republican legislators shut down Idaho’s Maternal Mortality Review Board, which tracked maternal deaths. Then they enacted laws to mandate abortion investigations by local police and restrict interstate travel for abortions.
Their attacks extend to birth control, health care access, child care, and more.
Before it was resurrected, Republican legislators ended support for childcare businesses that had been critical to keeping their doors open. They voted down legislation that would require insurance companies to cover a six-month supply of birth control to ease the travel burden in rural Idaho. They killed a bill to provide menstrual products in schools to keep girls from having to go home midday. They terminated evidence-based adolescent pregnancy prevention Idaho had been conducting for years. And they let a bill to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage die in committee.
These assaults have dire consequences that Republican lawmakers continue to ignore. A recent KTVB story recounted the story of Kayla and her husband. They were overjoyed when she became pregnant. Tragically, a 20-week anatomy scan revealed fatal birth defects. The couple had to travel to Washington for Kayla to get an early induction of labor. Speaking about her painful experience, Kayla said, “There are so many factors that go into a family’s life, a woman’s life, that they can’t account for in legislation.”
The campaign against women and girls harms us all. It pushes medical practitioners out of state and discourages businesses from investing here. It will eventually drive our children away too. All girls and women in Idaho deserve the freedoms and opportunities. Idaho Democrats will continue fighting for them.
Lauren Necochea, Idaho Democratic Party Chair