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Idaho Republicans Introduce Second Anti-Abortion Measure for 2016 Session


  • Kelsey Hawes

A bill that revisits the 2015 debate over the possible sale or donation of fetal tissue has been introduced at the Idaho Legislature, the second anti-abortion measure to surface in less than a week.

The Republican majority of the Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7-2 to introduce Senate Bill 1349 on Feb. 19. Sponsors said the legislation would "make it illegal to harvest [fetal] organs and tissue for any purpose, including experimentation."

In 2015, a string of deceptively edited "sting" videos from anti-abortion activists purported to show Planned Parenthood officials selling fetal tissue. The controversy gained traction as 27 members of the Idaho Legislature asked Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's office to look into how many Idaho tax dollars had been put toward abortions—particularly those funded by Medicaid.

According to state data, only two abortions funded by Medicaid were performed by Planned Parenthood in Idaho between 2012 and 2014. That state's portion amounted to $108. Lawmakers were also reminded that Idaho Medicaid dollars can only be used to pay for abortions in cases of rape or incest, or if the mother's life is at risk.

"Planned Parenthood is a health care provider to 2.7 million people across the nation. One in five women come into our health centers during their lifetime," said Hannah Brass Greer, Idaho legislative director and public affairs manager for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest. "But we're still fighting back against those videos."

A Texas grand jury indicted two anti-abortion activists behind the undercover video campaign, charging them with tampering with government documents—a felony.

That has not deterred a number of Idaho Republicans, including the 18 legislative co-sponsors of SB 1349, from pushing the measure. A public hearing on the bill is expected in the next week or two.