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Idaho lawmakers clash on lack of reproductive rights legislation as session nears end

The Idaho State Capitol in Boise. | Jordan Wood,
BOISE (Idaho Capital Sun) — As Idaho lawmakers work toward concluding the 2024 legislative session, legislators are clashing over reproductive rights issues.
A committee hearing planned for Tuesday morning on women’s health care workforce challenges was canceled. That meeting would’ve brought lawmakers on the Idaho House and Senate health committees to listen to health care representatives speak on the issues. 
Idaho House Health and Welfare Committee Chairman John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, said he canceled the hearing because of a Friday press conference, where Democratic lawmakers criticized Republican lawmakers over legislative inaction.
Idaho Democratic lawmakers had called on Republican lawmakers to introduce bills to address the departure of OB-GYNs from the state in the wake of its near-total abortion ban, create health exceptions for pregnant women in the state’s strict abortion ban, and protect access to in vitro fertilization services. 
Idaho legislative leaders have said they hope to end the 2024 legislative session this week. Vander Woude, in an interview with the Idaho Capital Sun, said he’d been working toward legislation on issues that Democrats discussed. 
“For the Democrats to go out there and hold the news conference, badmouthing all the GOP, I thought was uncalled for,” Vander Woude told the Sun.
Vander Woude also shared copies of two letters — signed by 47 Idaho GOP lawmakers and nearly two-dozen Senate lawmakers — that conclude “there is no statutory obstacle of the continued offering of” in vitro fertilization treatments in Idaho.
Idaho House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, told the Idaho Capital Sun in a statement that they “were disappointed to learn that GOP leadership canceled the hearing on women’s health care that care providers had been planning for months.”
Rubel said Idahos’s “draconian abortion bans have caused incalculable damage.” A report by the Idaho Physician Well-Being Action Collaborative in February found: 
Idaho lost 22% of practicing obstetricians since its abortion bans took effect. And 55% of high-risk obstetricians left the state. That has left Idaho with less than five of those specialists full-time, which are called maternal fetal medicine doctors, the report found.Three labor and delivery departments closed. (The report identified two closures of hospital obstetric programs, but said West Valley Medical Center would close. The Idaho Statesman reported on that clinic’s pending closure.)
Rubel said “pregnant women experiencing health emergencies now have to be airlifted out of state for treatment.”
“Rather than fix the abortion laws they passed, GOP leaders have chosen to suppress information about the disastrous fallout of those laws,” Rubel said. “Idahoans need actual access to women’s health care, not the silencing of health care professionals.”
Idaho legislators weigh in on IVF availability in the state
The Alabama Supreme Court earlier this year ruled that frozen embryos outside the womb are children. The letters, dated March 20 by Vander Woude and Idaho Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairwoman Julie VanOrden, R-Pingree, suggest that isn’t likely in Idaho.
“After diligent inquiry, we have concluded there is no statutory obstacle to the continued offering of this important option to Idaho families,” the letters said. “In addition, we have reviewed pertinent case law from Idaho and federal courts to reach the conclusion there are no relevant court precedents which could foreseeably pose a challenge to the continued provision of IVF treatments in Idaho.”
The letters indicated lawmakers hope to support in vitro fertilization’s continued availability to Idaho families. 
Rep. Brooke Green, D-Boise, said Friday she worked to come up with a compromise with Republican legislators, but said she did not make progress because her colleagues said there was “no need” for the law.
Green submitted a personal bill for IVF protections on Friday, meaning it will not move forward, but it is a statement in support of the cause.
The post Idaho lawmakers clash on lack of reproductive rights legislation as session nears end appeared first on East Idaho News.

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