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In The Midst of a Global Pandemic, Idaho Legislature Pushed Ahead on Anti-Abortion and Anti-Transgender Legislation 

BOISE — Idaho’s 2020 legislative session has come to an end after both the House and Senate adjourned. During the course of the Idaho legislative session, elected officials advanced legislation that would put lives at risk to score political points. Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii (PPVNH) condemns the actions of senators and representatives in their actions, words, and decisions this session, and calls on Governor Little to veto the discriminatory legislation on his desk.

“Our elected leaders are failing to lead. A public health crisis demands real leadership, something the Republican majority in Idaho doesn’t seem to have,” said Mistie Tolman, Idaho State Director for PPVNH. “Instead, our elected officials almost exclusively focused on zealous and transparent attacks on reproductive health care and the transgender community. Prioritizing anything other than health care access and investment in public health systems right now is irresponsible and will cost lives. The anti-abortion politicians who pushed the Trigger Law and Planned Parenthood ‘defund’ bills should be ashamed. We have got to elect leaders who are able to rise to the challenges we face as a nation, not go after vulnerable communities to please their base.”

Numerous bills attacking reproductive health care, including abortion access, were introduced this session. House Bill 525 would have stripped all public funding from any provider that offers abortion. A ‘Trigger Law’ will automatically make abortion illegal in Idaho should Roe v. Wade be overturned. In addition, Speaker of the House Scott Bedke refused to condemn Rep. Vito Barbieri’s dangerous words threatening violence against Planned Parenthood at a town hall meeting earlier this year. 

Additionally, the Idaho legislature was almost singularly focused on attacking  the transgender community, ignoring unprecedented opposition and passing two discriminatory bills. House Bill 500, which would ban young trans girls from playing school sports with their female peers, and House Bill 509, which would ban people from changing their gender marker on their birth certificates, are at the governor’s desk awaiting his signature or veto. These bills were widely opposed by Idaho’s largest business leaders, faith leaders, legal experts (including five former Idaho attorneys general), the community at large, and advocacy groups including Planned Parenthood. Despite this overwhelming public outrage, both the House and the Senate pushed the bill to the governor’s desk. PPVNH calls on Governor Little to veto these bills and demonstrate that discrimination will not be tolerated in the state of Idaho. House Bill 465, which would have made providing gender-affirming medical care to youth a felony, was the only attack on the transgender community the legislature chose not to pursue after hours of testimony in opposition.