House passes ‘fetal heartbeat’ bill

The bill’s opponents say it will lead the state to losing costly court cases

By: - April 16, 2021 3:48 pm

The House in session at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

The Idaho House of Representatives passed a bill Friday that prohibits abortion procedures once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. 

House Bill 366 is the third so-called fetal heartbeat bill that legislators have considered this year. 

The bill includes an exception for rape or incest, but it requires rape or incest victims to first obtain a police report and provide it to the physician performing the abortion.

The bill says “unborn children” have interests in life, health and well-being that should be protected.

Republican House members spoke in favor of the measure during floor debate.

 “We want to save baby lives,” said Rep. Steven Harris, the Meridian Republican who sponsored the bill.

“If this is a way that we can save some of these beautiful little children, I am all for that,” Rep. Karey Hanks, R-St. Anthony, said. 

Other legislators said the bill is part of an ongoing effort to protect conservative values in Idaho.

“If you want to kill your babies and you want to smoke your marijuana or do your drugs, go to Oregon. Go to Washington. Go to California,” Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, said. “But I want our state to be different.”

All House Democrats opposed the bill, saying it would lead to court challenges the state is likely to lose unless the U.S. Supreme Court decision from Roe v. Wade is overturned.

“All this does, literally all it does, is walk us into expensive losing litigation,” House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, said. 

Planned Parenthood put out a statement calling the bill an extreme, unconstitutional ban. The organization’s leaders said the bill would prevent a woman from getting an abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Many women may not yet know they are pregnant, at six weeks’ gestation.

“It is clear the Idaho Legislature does not actually value freedom or bodily autonomy, does not care about re-traumatizing victims of rape and incest and does not care about wasting taxpayer dollars,” Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman, Idaho state director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, said in a written statement. 

After an hour-long debate, the House voted 53-16 to pass House Bill 366. The bill heads next to the Senate for consideration. It is very similar to Senate Bill 1183, which the Senate passed 28-7 on April 6. 

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Clark Corbin
Clark Corbin

Clark Corbin has more than a decade of experience covering Idaho government and politics. He has covered every Idaho legislative session since 2011 gavel-to-gavel. Prior to joining the Idaho Capital Sun he reported for the Idaho Falls Post Register and Idaho Education News. His reporting in Idaho has helped uncover a multimillion-dollar investment scam and exposed inaccurate data that school districts submitted to the state.