As Illinois Hits New Abortion Low, Here’s Where Idaho Stands

June 6

The last several weeks have brought a lot of encouraging news in the quest to protect life, as several states have taken bold steps to greatly limit abortions.

While those new laws in places like Ohio, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Missouri are being challenged and put on hold in the courts, it’s still an encouragement to see lawmakers moving in the right direction. It was especially positive to see the Democrat governor of Louisiana put his signature on the pro-life bill there.

But sadly, we’ve also seen a march in the other direction. New York got everyone’s attention early in the year, and other liberal states have followed suit.

Probably the most stunning example just happened in Illinois, where a few days ago the state senate approved a bill that legalizes abortion through all nine months and strips away all limitations, including repealing the state’s ban on gruesome partial-birth abortions. The governor of Illinois is fully expected to sign it.

So where does Idaho stand in all of this?

Every year, the national pro-life group, Americans United for Life (AUL), does a comprehensive legal analysis of each state’s legal protections for human life from conception to natural death. This year, Idaho ranked as the 21st most pro-life state – right behind Virginia and just ahead of the Carolinas.

Idaho lawmakers – with the help of people like you – have passed a lot of good, pro-life measures over the years.

  • These include making abortion illegal after viability, when a baby is able to live outside the womb.
  • They have also enacted laws requiring parental consent for minors seeking abortion.
  • They have instituted measures to ensure that women seeking abortions are informed about their baby’s development and what really happens in an abortion.
  • Idaho also requires a 24-hour waiting period before getting an abortion.
  • In the 2018 and 2019 legislative sessions, four new pro-life laws were enacted, including a requirement that women seeking chemical abortions receive information about ways to potentially reverse such an abortion once the first medication has been taken.
  • And just this year, the state tweaked its ban on partial-birth abortions to satisfy court concerns and make it enforceable.

Studies show that many of these laws significantly reduce the number of abortions in a state, so it’s reasonable to assume that they played a role in the more than 20 percent reduction in Idaho abortions over the last decade or so.

But the 1,285 annual abortions in Idaho, as of 2017, remind us that we have lots of work to do, including passing other laws that have been enacted by the 20 states that rank ahead of us on the AUL list. Yes, some of those laws will be challenged and end up in the notorious Ninth Circuit. But Arizona, which is also in the Ninth Circuit, ranks number one on the AUL list – proving that we can still accomplish a lot, with hopes that an improving judiciary will open up the window of possibility even more.

Choosing when, where and what legislation to run is a serious chess game with lots of strategic implications. It calls to mind the multi-faceted strategic decision-making in which President Abraham Lincoln engaged as he sought to free the slaves – keeping his eye on the courts, the political situation in Congress and even the status of the war. He recognized that rash actions could jeopardize the entire effort, and yet he needed to be ready to move when the opportunity opened.

May God grant us that same strength – and great wisdom – in this critical life-saving mission.

For life,

John Paulton
Director of Advocacy