Pregnant people who receive abortion care and the doctors who perform the procedure would face first-degree murder charges under a forthcoming bill by a Republican lawmaker in Idaho.
First-degree murder in Idaho carries a sentence of life imprisonment or death.
Draft language for the bill isn’t yet available, but its author said the legislation would carve out a single exception to the murder charges in cases where pregnant people’s lives are endangered.
“I don’t want to tell a woman what to do with her body, and neither should the government,” the bill’s author, Sen. Dan Foreman (R-Moscow), told the Lewiston Tribune. “But using that same logic, how can a woman tell her unborn child it has to die? Who represents the child?”
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The bill’s effort to charge someone who has a legal abortion with first-degree murder is an apparent first in the nation.
“Over the years we have seen abortion bans, but not ones that specifically equate abortion with homicide,” Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute said in an email to Rewire.
Elsewhere, some prosecutors are twisting fetal homicide laws that are on the books to jail people whose pregnancies ended through their own actions—rather than by a third party committing a crime. These cases include Indiana’s Purvi Patel and Bei Bei Shuai, as Rewire’s Jessica Mason Pieklo has reported.
The proposed Idaho bill is unlike these laws in that it would turn legal abortions into first-degree murder, and possibly sentence the provider and pregnant person to life in prison or the death penalty.
The U.S. Constitution guarantees the legal right to abortion care—a more than 40-year-old right the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed last year in rejecting provisions of an onerous Texas abortion bill. But the Idaho Republican insists that “Roe v Wade was wrong.”
“I believe my position is supported by the Idaho Constitution and U.S. Constitution,” Foreman said. “In fact, I believe it’s mandated.”