- Kelsey Hawes
Just before the launch of the 2016 session of the Idaho Legislature, Planned Parenthood Idaho leaders indicated they were expecting at least one bill to surface in the shadow of an undercover video smear campaign, falsely alleging Planned Parenthood was trafficking in fetal tissue.
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said he would not launch an investigation into Planned Parenthood Idaho, concluding there was no evidence the organization had violated any laws in Idaho. Meanwhile, the perpetrators of the deception were indicted by a Texas grand jury in January, charged with tampering with government documents—a felony.
"I expect at least one bill [in this year's legislative session] limiting abortion access and another bill prohibiting the donation of fetal tissue—the latter a direct response to the discredited videos for which these individuals have been indicted," Hannah Brass Greer, Idaho legislative director and public affairs manager for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, told Boise Weekly at the time.
As predicted, an anti-abortion faction led by Idaho Chooses Life unveiled an 11th-hour measure, Senate Bill 1404, dubbed the "Idaho Unborn Infants Dignity Act."
"The governor asked Planned Parenthood if they sold fetal tissue and they told him, 'no.' Fine, we must accept that answer. But this is no the end of the matter," Idaho Chooses Life Director Dave Ripley told the Senate State Affairs Committee Friday morning.
The bill would make illegal the harvest of organs and tissue of "preborn children" for any purpose. While no medical professionals testified before the committee, a steady stream of pro-life advocates stood before lawmakers and tearfully supported the measure. One even quoted a fictional television character in her testimony.
"To quote the greatest star ship captain of all time, [Star Trek's] Captain James T. Kirk, who said, 'How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life,'" said Caitlyn Scherer, who told lawmakers she was representing herself before the committee.
Greer said the bill, though already amended several times, contained "too many inconsistencies and broad and vague language. Instead of pushing through this deeply-flawed bill at this late stage of the session, we ask that you hold this bill in committee."
Nonetheless, the Republican majority of the committee voted on party lines to send SB 1404 to the 14th order for further amendments in a continued attempt fix some outstanding constitutional concerns.