Idaho Senate Approves Fetal Heartbeat/Abortion Bill

Apr 6, 2021

Idaho Sen. Patti Anne Lodge aims to restrict abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Credit Idaho Public TV screenshot

The Idaho Senate has approved a bill that would prohibit abortions after six or eight weeks of pregnancy.

The name of the bill sponsored by Sen. Patti Anne Lodge [R-Canyon County] is the Fetal Heartbeat Preborn Child Protection Act.

“This legislation would assert a compelling interest in protecting the right to life of every pre-born child with a detectable heartbeat," she said.

The bill would require health care providers considering whether to terminate a pregnancy to test whether the unborn baby has a beating heart and record a variety of information, including the estimated age of the fetus. Abortions after detection of the heartbeat would be illegal. Violators would be deemed guilty of criminal abortion, face two-to-five years in prison and potential loss of professional license. The law also allows a woman who undergoes an abortion to sue the provider in civil court.

The bill provides three exceptions: when a woman is pregnant because of rape or incest or if her life is in danger. It also requires a woman seeking an abortion from a pregnancy caused through rape or incest to report the crime to police.

Sen. Melissa Wintrow [D-Boise] has worked with rape victims.

“We may think that’s an ethical dilemma. Just go there, report it, get your note. It’s not going to be that easy, because this is the point that I think is finally the big problem with this bill, the rape. It’s not a rape exception. If I have to go give the police report, we’re now violating the Violence Against Women Act that was passed in 2005," she said.

And by doing that, by requiring women to report that crime, Wintrow says, Idaho risks losing millions of dollars in federal aid for women who are victims of violence.

That argument wasn’t persuasive with most senators. The fetal heartbeat bill was approved by a 28-to-seven vote. It now goes to the House. If it passes there and is signed into law, sponsor Patti Anne Lodge acknowledges it would have no immediate effect.

“This legislation has a trigger mechanism that would make it effective upon a positive decision of any federal appellate court in the nation," Lodge said.

The legislation says the prospective law would take effect 30 days after an appeals court ruling upholding a similar law in another state.