Idaho House panel introduces abortion bills

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Rep. Heather Scott, Rep. Elaine Smith and Margie Gannon (Rep. Paulette Jordan’s substitute) during Ripley’s presentation. (Photo by NINA RYDALCH)

Two bills brought by an anti-abortion organization executive were introduced by an Idaho House panel Tuesday on a party-line voice vote.

The first bill presented would require reporting health complications resulting from abortions to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Both chemical and surgical abortions would need to be reported if the bill were to become law.

David Ripley, executive director for Idaho Chooses Life, said lack of data on complications of chemical abortions was part of the reason two Idaho laws restricting telemedicine abortions were repealed in 2017. The legislature repealed the laws after a federal judge said he would otherwise rule them unconstitutional.

Ripley said though doctors are currently required to report complications to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the FDA has not made that data available since 2011.

“Given the fact that we find ourselves in the uncharted waters of sketchy new procedures, it is imperative that Idaho creates a system to find out what kind of impact this new procedure is having on women’s health,” Ripley said about certain chemical abortions. “And we just can’t wait until the FDA gets around to telling us.”

The other bill Ripley brought forward would restrict awards given to family planning service providers, such as Planned Parenthood, prioritizing comprehensive public service providers over private providers.

“The legislation would not prevent organizations, like Planned Parenthood, from applying for taxpayer funds,” Ripley said. “Nor would it prevent entities like Planned Parenthood from receiving taxpayer funds under Title X.”

Title X is a federal grant program dedicated to family planning services. Ripley said Ohio and Texas have similar prioritizations. On the list, private family planning providers that do not offer comprehensive services are the last priority.

Margie Gannon, who is filling in for Rep. Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer, and Rep. Elaine Smith, D-Pocatello, voted against both bills.

“I felt like they were trying to go after Planned Parenthood,” Smith said about the bill restricting awards in an interview after the meeting.

The House State Affairs Committee introduced the bills without discussion.

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