Editorial: Idaho's abortion laws need fix so docs can treat ectopic pregnancies

The Editorial Board, Idaho Statesman on

Published in Political News

No matter your position on whether abortion should be legal, Idaho’s existing law is broken.

Before the U.S. Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade, Idaho had enacted a trigger law that would become effective on that day. The intention was to outlaw abortion in nearly all cases, with narrow exceptions for cases of rape or incest.

But when the court issued its ruling and the bill went into effect, it soon became clear it would do much more than that — including making basic, lifesaving care for women without viable pregnancies a felony.

A bill introduced into the Idaho House has the possibility of fixing this problem, though it has so far not gotten a hearing in the House State Affairs Committee.

House Bill 342 is not a great bill for people who respect women’s reproductive rights. Indeed, in one respect it further restricts abortion rules: It narrows the ability for victims of rape and incest to obtain an abortion. Current law provides a blanket exception for them. The new law would allow them only to obtain an abortion in the first trimester.

But the bill does several important things that are vital.


It ensures that doctors won’t be prosecuted if they pursued a course of treatment necessary for a life-threatening condition. It also ensures that women who report rape or incest can quickly get access to a police report, a necessary step to access the rape and incest exceptions.

Most importantly, it defines the treatment of an ectopic pregnancy, a molar pregnancy or a miscarriage as outside of the category of abortion.

This is enormously important.

It’s a common falsehood, often still repeated by anti-abortion activists, that Idaho’s trigger law would not place doctors at risk of a felony for treating an ectopic pregnancy — a fairly common condition where an embryo embeds outside the uterus and is not viable but could cause the woman serious injury or death.


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