BOISE, Idaho —
This story originally appeared in the Idaho Press.
On a cloudy mild spring morning, about 300 people lined the steps of the Idaho State Capitol at 10 a.m. Saturday at a rally organized by the abortion rights coalition Freeing Idaho.
The protesters came to oppose a six-week abortion ban, Senate Bill 1309, fashioned after one recently passed in Texas. If signed into law, the ban would effectively eliminate all abortions in Idaho after six weeks. In addition, it would give family members of the fetus, including a rapist's family members, the right to sue healthcare workers and doctors for performing an abortion, and allotting $20,000 for each successful lawsuit.
The bill has passed both the Idaho House and the Idaho Senate and is now on Gov. Brad Little's desk, awaiting his signature.
The main purpose of the rally was to encourage attendees to make phone calls, write letters and send texts to Little demanding he veto the bill.
Colleen Fletcher, 31, was at the rally with a group of friends protesting the abortion ban.
"We're in a masters social work program," said Fletcher. "One of our students has been really active on the House floor, keeping us updated. That's kind of how we heard about this."
Fletcher, who said she's been in Idaho "almost 10 years," said she is not surprised that Idaho is the first state to pass an abortion ban similar to the one in Texas.
Neither were her friends, also attending the rally: Morgan Robinson, 23; Gabrielle Earle, 25; and Hannah DeBellis, 22. "No, not surprised," said DeBellis, "but I wish I were."
Sen. Melissa Wintrow was one of the speakers at the rally.
"Today, no matter how much we get kicked, no matter how many times we get knocked down — we will persist," she said to the crowd. "We have no other choice than to pick ourselves up. We cannot allow this. We have to find a way to get people the kind of care that pregnant women in Idaho deserve … they deserve to have access to a full range of healthcare.
"This is one of the most scary times in our history," Wintrow said.
Idaho State Director of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Mistie DelliCarpini-Tolman said SB 1309 was all about political power.
"So welcome to Idaho," DelliCarpini-Tolman said. "Pregnant people are cancelled. Doctors are cancelled. And care over your own body is cancelled. … We demand Governor Little veto this atrocious bill."
Sixteen-year-old Amanda Loiselle of Kuna High School, read an impassioned speech, ending with her own summary. "Making abortion illegal doesn't stop abortions … it just stops safe ones," she said.
The rally ended with a call to action as the coalition led the group to the downtown U.S. Post Office where, in a procession, they mailed letters to Little.
Last week, the House voted 51-14 with no Democratic support to approve the legislation modeled after a Texas law that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed to remain in place until a court challenge is decided on its merits.
“This bill makes sure that the people of Idaho can stand up for our values and do everything in our power to prevent the wanton destruction of innocent human life,” Republican Rep. Steven Harris, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement after the vote.
Watch more Local News:
See the latest news from around the Treasure Valley and the Gem State in our YouTube playlist: