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Fetal heartbeat bill passes the Senate, heads to Gov. Brad Little

Posted at 4:24 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-23 10:26:46-04

BOISE, Idaho — A bill that would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected now moves to Gov. Brad Little's desk for his signature.

House Bill 366 passed the House last week and passed the Senate this afternoon 25-7.

The bill would make it illegal to perform an abortion on a woman in Idaho once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can happen as early as six weeks. Providers could face up to five years in prison and the woman who receives the abortion would be allowed to sue the provider.

"We want to make sure that the practice of abortion is stopped within the state of Idaho," Co-Sponsor Rep. Brent Crane (R) said. "We also feel like a very strong argument to be made is that, if you can detect a beating heart that means that fetus is viable and that fetus should have rights at that point.”

According to the bill text, "fetal heartbeat" means embryonic or fetal cardiac activity or the steady and repetitive rhythmic contraction of the fetal heart within the gestational sac. Any person who intends to perform an abortion must determine if there is a fetal heartbeat, except in the case of a medical emergency.

Exceptions are outlined for medical emergencies and cases of rape or incest, where a victim provides a copy of a police report. The bill says if the woman is not a minor or subject to guardianship, a copy of the report must be provided to the physician who is performing the abortion before the procedure.

The legislation is known as a "trigger bill", which would go into effect if another Circuit Court of Appeals upholds similar legislation, according to Planned Parenthood. If that were to happen, Planned Parenthood would take legal action, the organization announced Wednesday.

In a statement, Idaho State Director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Mistie Tolman called on Gov. Brad Little to veto the legislation:

“We call on Governor Brad Little to veto this bill. House Bill 366 is an extreme law that is part of a years-long effort to dismantle reproductive health care in the state of Idaho. The politicians who are hellbent on passing this bill acknowledged it is unconstitutional, which explains why it is set up to go into effect only when upheld anywhere else in the country. What this bill is meant to do is punish pregnant people, plain and simple.

“Politicians should not be involved in personal medical decisions about pregnancy. We don’t turn to politicians for advice about birth control, cancer treatment, or abnormal pap tests, and that will never change. Six-week bans on abortion are deeply unpopular in Idaho and have been struck down in court around the country, but our elected leaders remain fixated on restricting access to reproductive health care in this state. It is vital that abortion remain a safe and legal medical procedure in Idaho.”

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has statistics on abortions in Idaho. You can read through the full report below.