As Idaho looks to restrict abortion care, Washington seeks to protect it

Idaho lawmakers are looking at restricting abortion care to the point it could soon be impossible. 

Last year, the state passed a bill to ban abortions when the state says a fetal heartbeat is found. Doctors say that instead of a fetal heartbeat, it’s just cardiac activity. This happens is about five or six weeks into a pregnancy and at that time, some women do not know they are even pregnant.

The Idaho Senate followed in Texas’ footsteps on Thursday, passing a bill to allow families to sue a doctor who performs, or even attempts, to do an abortion. Families can get a minimum of $20,000 and have up to four years to file a lawsuit.

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“It is human nature to protect those who cannot speak for themselves. Our unborn babies deserve more and they deserve more after they’re born and we need to do more,” said Senator Pattie Anne Lodge (R, ID-11).

As Idaho looks to restrict abortions, Washington lawmakers are trying to protect and expand access. 

Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho (PPGWNI) is expecting more Idaho patients to cross the border to get abortion care. Paul Dillon, the vice president of public affairs with PPGWNI says 43 percent of abortion care patients in the Spokane Valley clinic are from Idaho.

“It really is heartbreaking, I think, to hear these stories of patients who do have to travel so far to get care,” Dillon said.

There is not currently an abortion clinic in the Panhandle. 

In Washington, lawmakers passed House Bill 1851, which will now head to the governor’s desk for a signature. It assures the protection of abortion rights in the Evergreen State, but will also expand it by allowing physician assistants and nurse practitioners to do abortion care. 

“This has already been approved by the Attorney General in legal opinion, but it was important to put that into code. It helps create protection against criminalization like we’re seeing right now in Idaho, unfortunately,” Dillon said.

He said the bill moving the Idaho legislature is “absolutely cruel and unacceptable.” 

However, legislators who are for the bill say they’re protecting the lives of the unborn.

“Where would my wife be today, where would my two boys be today if my birth mother decided to have an abortion,” Senator Robert Blair (R, ID-6) testified Thursday.

The bill ended up passing in the Senate on a 28 to 6 vote and 1 abstention.

“The greatest beauty and the greatest glory is that of human life, for us to protect that and watch out for those babies, is the greatest thing we can do,” said Senator Christy Zito (R, ID-23).

It will now be considered by the House of Representatives. 

In just a few months, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case about the possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade. Because of this, one Republican senator said they should wait to see what the ruling is before voting it into law in Idaho.

“It feels like an attack on me as a human being, able and capable of my own moral decisions about my body, now a government agency, the whole state of Idaho enabling my family to come after me if I make a choice,” said Senator Melissa Wintrow (D, ID-19).

Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho says it is expecting a wave of patients coming to the state for abortion care if the historic case is overturned.

READ: More than half of US abortions now done with bills