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Reactions mixed about abortion ban

Staff Writer | March 24, 2022 1:09 AM

Gov. Brad Little signed the Fetal Heartbeat, Preborn Child Protection Act bill into law Wednesday.

Reactions to this law, which goes into effect in 30 days, were mixed.

Open Arms Pregnancy Care Center and Real Choices Clinic in Coeur d'Alene is among those celebrating.

"We thank God for this victory and stand in unity with all Idahoans who desire to protect and defend the preborn who cannot stand for themselves," Open Arms Executive Director Richard Hawk told The Press.

He said Open Arms remains committed to serving the preborn, the mothers and the families of North Idaho, "and revealing God’s design for human life, sexual integrity and reproductive health."

Sen. Peter Riggs, R-Post Falls, said Idaho stands at the forefront of the effort to protect life.

"I'm proud to be a part of that," Riggs said. "The Fetal Heartbeat bill is an important new piece of protection in that battle."

He said while the Supreme Court has made abortion legal, he believes the decision was "shortsighted and incorrect."

"We value life, but we debate when life begins," Riggs said. "Medical professionals the world over cannot declare with scientific certainty the day a preborn child becomes a 'life.' That is why we have a moral duty to exercise extreme caution when we consider these actions."

Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d'Alene, said Idaho's bill is similar to the Texas heartbeat bill passed last year.

"The real life impact of the Texas bill has been a dramatic decrease in the number of abortions," she said. "I supported our bill, as I support every effort to protect the lives of our children."

Paul Dillon, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, said the law is "a blatant violation of Idahoans' constitutional right to abortion" and described it as "a disturbing violation of privacy."

"Politicians should not be intervening between a patient and a provider. Period," Dillon said. "Right now, the current state of access to abortion is bleak. It has been bleak for years, but today it just got bleaker."

He said Planned Parenthood has seen an increase in patients traveling from Idaho to clinics in Washington for abortions in the past year. He said 43% of all visits to the Spokane Valley clinic in 2021 were patients from Idaho.

"We would anticipate that number would increase as this access is decimated," he said.

Even though the ban is about to go into effect, Dillon said legal challenges are certain.

"Idaho’s own attorney general voiced opposition to the law. He said this is unconstitutional," Dillon said.

Legal Voice is a Seattle-based nonprofit that advocates for women's rights in the Northwest. Legal Voice Idaho programs manager Chelsea Gaona-Lincoln said in a press release that "knowing that the clock is winding down on access to safe abortion care in Idaho is absolutely sickening."

"Extremists know they cannot eradicate abortion — they only seek to ban access to safe abortion care, putting the lives of pregnant people at risk," she said. "As someone that is 26 weeks pregnant and an Idahoan — these legislators love to brag about local control — nothing is more local than having control over my own body.”