BOISE, Idaho —
With the U.S Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization less than two weeks ago, Idaho’s abortion ban trigger law will make abortions illegal in less than two months.
The trigger law passed overwhelmingly in March of 2020, right as we were hit by the covid pandemic and signed by the governor the day before he signed a statewide stay-at-home order.
However, there were three republicans in Idaho’s House of Representatives that voted against it.
Two of them, Representatives Heather Scott and Priscilla Giddings from Blanchard and white Bird respectively, did not want to wait for the supreme court's permission. In fact, rep. Scott said during debate "the supreme court will not change their mind" on Roe v Wade. But both of them also did not believe senate bill 1385 went far enough.
The other ‘no’ vote was from representative Fred Wood from Burley, the only physician in Idaho's legislature.
Wood began his medical career in a general family practice but spent the last 17 years working in the emergency room. However, instead of a medical reason for his objection to the abortion ban, he went with a legal one two years ago.
“I really object to this statute if in fact we're lowering the burden of guilt for a felony to convict someone of homicide and if we're lowering that then I really have a concern with this,” Wood said on March 18, 2020 during the house floor debate over senate bill 1385.
Going back to representative Scott's sentiments, there were probably a lot of others who did not see this ruling coming this soon. So, when it did, we wanted to ask representative Wood about his republican opposition. He told us today, it is still a legal issue, but it is also a philosophical one.
Scot Wood: I don't think it's a criminal act, I mean, you can be against abortion or whatever but in my opinion that's not a criminal act.
Brian Holmes: Is it because of your experience as a physician that you're coming at this from a different perspective from every other republican in the house of representatives?
Wood: Correct. You know, I started medical school in 1968, I graduated in 1972. When I was an intern, I saw what happened, I did my internship in Arizona, many people who went to Mexico to get illegal abortions and some died. From my perspective, and my personal philosophy, what happens with my healthcare, is absolutely no business, or anybody else. That's my business, just like nobody should ever get between a doctor and their patient. Period. And in my opinion, that is not murder. Murder is a concept in my opinion is basically a religious tenet not a tenet of common law. You know how you make abortion go away? It's pretty simple, you make unwanted pregnancies go away, Brian. Yet, you know what my colleagues are going to do. Mark my word, they will try to take away every single form of contraception that there is available. Which, markedly, is going to increase the number of unwanted pregnancies. Which is then markedly going to increase the demand for abortion.
Holmes: So, you sound like someone who is ringing the bell, maybe a little fearful of what's next and where we are right now.
Woods: I worry, you know, I really worry. The lower socioeconomic classes, some of them are not going to be able to afford contraception, and then those people are going to suffer the consequences. All you're going to do is increase the cycle of poverty. I've lived that, I've seen that, that's why I voted against it. I can hear it now, I can hear ‘Rep. Fred Wood does not sound like a republican.’ I've been accused of being everything but a republican for most of the sixteen years I've been there. Brian, I've been a republican all my life. I can remember a long time ago what republicans used to be like, I'm a republican, ok? I'm a staunch fiscal conservative, I am not a social conservative. This day and age, you can't be a conservative without being a strict social conservative in a lot of people's minds. Not mine, but a lot of people's minds.
Holmes: Any outgoing words for Idahoans about your party going forward, like where do you see this going?
Wood: I'm very concerned about where the party is going. People say we're no longer republicans. We're republicans, the republican party left us a long time ago, the republican party is no longer the republican party. I don't know what it is. There are two characteristics of the party, however, that do concern me significantly and that is, they are drifting towards a theocratic totalitarianism state of mind in the party and I think that bodes ill for the republican party in the long term.
Representative Wood will not have much say in the direction of the party in the Idaho Statehouse, because while he will always consider himself a republican, in about five months, he will not be considered a representative.
His term ends November 30 of this year, the day before he turns 77, after 16 years in office.
He said he decided years ago he would not run again after redistricting took place, even though many have pleaded with him to reconsider.
Representative Wood told KTVB he received no backlash after that ‘no’ vote two years ago.
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