Idaho House OKs legislation to defund abortion providers
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The House on Tuesday passed legislation that would halt public funding to any entities that advise women about their abortion options.
Lawmakers voted 55-14 to send to the Senate the bill supporters say would stop some women from obtaining abortions.
The bill would bar all public funding to any entity — including schools, public health departments and other health care providers — if anyone associated with the entity provides an abortion, assists someone in getting an abortion, or even counsels a patient that abortion is an option they could seek out. It allows exceptions for hospitals, cases where the mother’s life is in danger and cases involving Medicaid transactions, which are governed by federal law.
A federal law called the Hyde Amendment already bans federal dollars from being used for abortion services, with small exceptions. The bill would also stop public money going to other services like contraception or cancer screenings if the provider also offers abortion counseling.
“The bill defunds abortion so your tax dollars and mine are not used directly or indirectly for any type of abortion or referral for such services,” said Republican Rep. Bruce Skaug, one of the bill’s sponsors. “If I could stop Medicaid funds from going to abortion, I would.”
Opponents said it would stop many women from getting cancer screenings, birth control and other health care by shutting down providers like Planned Parenthood.
Some lawmakers opposed the legislation because it didn’t outright ban all abortions.
Democratic Rep. Chris Mathias opposed the legislation, saying he was concerned the bill denied healthcare coverage to thousands of Idaho residents because the facilities they use provide an occasional, constitutionally protected abortion.
“Idaho is a state with healthcare shortages,” he said. “We don’t have enough primary care physicians. We don’t have enough nurses. We don’t have enough hospitals in the right places. We don’t have enough beds. We don’t have enough people with health insurance or enough health insurance to get them the adequate care that they need.”