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US Health Secretary visits Boise to hear local impact of Idaho abortion restrictions

Posted at 5:14 PM, Jun 26, 2024

BOISE, Idaho — During his visit to Boise, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra joined Mayor McLean to hear firsthand accounts from local patients and healthcare providers about the impact of Idaho's restrictive abortion laws.

  • Treasure Valley resident Jillaine St. Michel shared her experience of having to travel out of state for an abortion due to severe fetal complications.
  • Secretary Becerra's visit is part of the national “Reproductive Health for All Tour."

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story.)

“I had to deal with that grief on my own and had to say goodbye to that very wanted pregnancy on my own,” says Treasure Valley resident Jillaine St. Michel.

After a healthy first pregnancy in 2022, Jillaine St. Michel and her husband were looking forward to welcoming a second child.

“A very wanted and planned pregnancy that happened going exactly as planned, up until our 20-week anatomy scan…” says St. Michel.

At which point it became clear that due to a litany of skeletal and organ fetal complications, St. Michel and her child were at risk.

“My husband and I, even though we had no conversation prior to that day, both came to a consensus that what was best for that baby and for our family was to terminate the pregnancy and have an abortion,” says St. Michel.

But due to Idaho's abortion restrictions, she ultimately had to go out of state to undergo the procedure.

“Unfortunately, we were given the news that because it was not legal in the state of Idaho, we would have to travel out of state,” says St. Michel.

U.S. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra sitting down to hear similar stories…

“Because we have work to do to ensure that here in your state, everyone gets the care they need. This really is about far more than abortion, the impact it has on families, the costs of doing things no one should have to go through, the hurdles, the cost. This is about your freedom to make your own decisions,” says U.S. Health Secretary Xavier Becerra.

State legislation puts doctors at risk of criminal charges, sparking concern for OB-GYNs, causing many to leave the state.

“Unfortunately, we’ve been placed in a position where we might be making a decision that feels like it’s self-protective rather than in the best interest of our patients, and that’s really a terrible place for physicians to be right now,” says Boise physician Dr. Sara Thomson.

And for people like Jillaine St. Michel, who welcomed a child from her third pregnancy…

“We should've never been put in that situation. Our provider who wanted to help us should’ve been able to do that. And my state should never have allowed that to happen, and they shouldn’t have made us feel like we were wrong for doing the most compassionate thing for that baby and for our family,” says St. Michel.