BOISE, Idaho — Boise City council passed a resolution on a narrow vote Tuesday night on a widely debated topic: Idaho’s new abortion laws that are set to go into effect next month. When that happens, abortions will be illegal in Idaho.
There will be exceptions for medical emergencies and instances of rape and incest that are reported to law enforcement. The 3-2 vote, though, has implications on how the City of Boise will handle the new law.
“This resolution makes clear that the policy of the city of Boise is that we will not divert public safety resources from taking care of our neighborhoods to investigating claims of abortion,” said Boise Mayor Lauren McLean
Mayor McLean applauded the passing of the resolution. The resolution states: “investigations for the purpose of prosecuting abortion providers will not be prioritized, and additional resources or personnel will not be assigned.”
It goes on to say, "it is the policy of the City of Boise that, except to the extent otherwise required by state or federal law, city funds will not be used to: store or catalog any report of performing or attempting to perform an abortion.
“Well, unfortunately, we've seen this dropped right in the lap of the city. There's an expectation that we will invade the privacy of doctors, of individuals who are making really tough decisions that ought to remain private. And we're not going to reprioritize public safety," McLean said. "The community expects us to keep our neighborhood safe. To increase the presence of police throughout the city, which we're committed to doing, the last thing we're going to do is take officers away from keeping people safe and move them into investigations of issues that are deeply private.”
The city said they will also not provide information to "any other governmental body, agency, or professional licensing board about any abortion performed, or attempted to be performed, or conduct surveillance or collect data or other information related to any individual, organization, location, vehicle, action, financial record, and internet activity for the purpose of determining whether an abortion has been performed or attempted to be performed."
“We can talk about it respectfully and we can have different views. And that's okay because I do have a different view on this,” Boise City Council member, Luci Willits, said during Tuesday night’s meeting.
Council members Luci Willits and Elaine Clegg voted no on the resolution. Willits and Clegg both made points that the resolution was not needed for a variety of reasons, both saying it goes beyond the purview of the city.
“There's a lot of other cities that are doing the same. Seattle, Portland, close by that are doing the same thing," Willits said. "And I think we need to get back to the business of Boise and not charge into these issues that nationalize our city council, that hyper-polarized local government.”
McLean says she is not concerned with the resolution going too far.
“My concern is about keeping our community safe. And we do that by prioritizing community and public safety and making sure that we aren't diverting resources to invade the privacy of our residents,” McLean said.
Willits said Tuesday that she did not believe in bringing "national politics" to city council.
“I worry that we, by passing resolutions like this, we are hyper-politicizing local government. And for that reason, I'm going to be voting no,” Willits said.
McLean answered questions of critics saying this is an issue the City of Boise should be talking about and involved in.
“If we don't speak up for our residents at times like these, who will? And that's what we heard loud and clear from people throughout the city in advance, asking us, what can the city do to protect us, to reassure us of who we are as a community in these tough times? And that's what the council did last night. And I deeply appreciate their partnership and leadership.” McLean said.
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