BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Republicans dominated statewide election races for the top positions in the state, leaving Democratic candidates wondering what is next for them.
Terri Pickens Manweiler, who ran against Republican Scott Bedke in the Lt. Governor race, said despite a disappointing election night, she is just getting started.
“I am disappointed in how the election turned out, not just for my race, but statewide across the board. We seem to be going in the wrong direction in Idaho when nationwide we seem to be going in the right direction," Pickens Manweiler said. "So, it is a one step forward, two steps back, kind of a feeling in Idaho. But that's okay, because that just gives me more energy to, you know, commit to the promises that I made during the campaign trail that I fully intend to continue with going forward."
Part of the journey forward is learning from Idahoans that Pickens Manweiler said she heard from during her campaign; abortion access.
“It has been central to my campaign. It was from day one and a lot of Democrats in Idaho, a lot of people in Idaho, have a hard time saying the word in public, saying that this is a big policy platform for them. I've never had that problem," Pickens Manweiler said. "You know, having been on the board of Planned Parenthood for the past six years and really focusing on this particular issue in my campaign, it gave everyone else kind of a path to be there, too. You know, we've spent too many years in Idaho skirting around the issue, and now we have absolutely no rights in Idaho as women and pregnant people. Frankly, that's a horrible place to be."
Pickens Manweiler said during her campaign that if elected, she would work with the legislature on the abortion and reproductive health conversation. If she was not elected, she said she had another avenue into the conversation; the citizen initiative process.
“One of the great things about having said that out loud on television in front of all of Idahoans is there were a group of people that were already moving in this direction that already knew the writing on the wall was the only way we're going to restore reproductive health care in Idaho was a ballot initiative," Pickens Manweiler said. "So, people were already working on this, and it was really refreshing to have those people contact me and say, 'hey, we just heard what you want to do. We're going that direction, too.' So, there is a coalition of people in this state that their sole goal is to make sure that we get about initiative on the 2024 ballot that puts it to the people, whether or not they want to have any restrictions on abortion care in the state."
So, what type of language does Pickens Manweiler envision in the initiative?
“So, this is my opinion. This is personal for me as an attorney and having talked with people all across this state,” Pickens Manweiler said. “There are three statutes right now on the books in Idaho that criminalize abortion care. All three need to be repealed in their entirety and whether or not there is some ability to craft language, to create some restrictions. Well, we're going to leave that to the doctors, because I'll tell you what. The doctors are the ones that are in the best position to determine viability. They're in the best position to determine the health and the life of the mother and they're in the best position to determine impacts on a fetus if it's going to maybe survive minutes outside of the womb and then suffer a very painful death.”
Pickens Manwiler said the effort is in early stages, but there is a serious roadmap they are ready to follow. The unnamed coalition working on the project plans to work with medical experts as well to develop ideas on the debate over abortion timelines. For Pickens Manwiler, this work is also rooted in something more personal.
“I made a promise to my daughter when the Dobbs decision was leaked back in March that I would do everything I could to ensure that she had reproductive freedom in this state. She's away at college. I got four years to get it done. So, this is the only way we're going to get it done in Idaho is a ballot initiative,” Pickens Manweiler said.
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