Governor Otter Signs Yet Another Extreme and Legally Questionable Bill Targeting Reproductive Health Care in Idaho

Boise – Yesterday, Governor Butch Otter signed SB 1404 into law, extreme legislation based on last year’s discredited and heavily biased videos targeting women who donated fetal tissue to medical research in other states. The signing came despite the fact that Planned Parenthood does not facilitate fetal tissue donation in Idaho, the people behind the videos have been indicted by a grand jury, and Governor Otter himself refused to investigate Planned Parenthood last year due to lack of evidence.

Last year the state of Idaho paid out more than one million dollars of taxpayer money afterlosing several lawsuits on unconstitutional bills. Last May, Idaho’s 20 week abortion ban was confirmed as unconstitutional by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. SB 1404 is set to join this long history of legally questionable reproductive health care laws in Idaho.

SB 1404 was pushed by anti-women’s health legislators as an attack on Planned Parenthood, but it has no direct impact on access to abortion and instead largely affects miscarriages and stillbirths while halting life-saving scientific research. Some of the immediate impacts of SB 1404 include:

  • Health care providers will now have to deviate from best medical practices when treating women dealing with miscarriage or stillbirth.
  • All academic research involving fetal tissue or embryonic stem cells obtained from an abortion is now outlawed, including any prospective projects at Idaho’s public universities.
  • Women are prohibited from donating fetal tissue from abortions for research, a practice that Planned Parenthood does not facilitate in Idaho. Historically, fetal tissue research has led to life-saving vaccines and treatments for polio, measles, shingles, rabies, and Hepatitis A, among many other diseases and conditions. Just last week, fetal tissue research findings on the Zika virus were published.

Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii released the following statement from Hannah Brass Greer, Idaho Legislative Director, in response to the signing:

“SB 1404 is an extreme law that is part of a years-long effort to dismantle women’s health care in the state of Idaho. Rather than being based on actual science or medicine, this bill is based on nothing more than an extreme agenda to put politicians like Governor Otter into the exam room between a woman and her doctor.

“Women donating fetal tissue for scientific research has resulted in some of the greatest medical breakthroughs ever – research that has continued at Idaho’s universities. SB 1404 unnecessarily makes this potentially life-saving research against the law. At the same time, SB 1404 places a host of legally questionable restrictions on the handling of fetal tissue that have absolutely no precedent in recommended medical practices. By forcing hospitals and other health care providers to deviate from current law and best medical practices, Idaho politicians have once again proven that they will do anything to restrict reproductive health care in Idaho. Not only are these ideas against the recommendations of physicians and other providers, but they are also potentially unconstitutional.

“Idaho deserves better.”

Opposition to SB 1404  is also opposed by the Idaho section of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). ACOG’s Dr. Cynthia Hayes wrote in a letter to Governor Otter:

“I urge you to veto SB 1404 as ill-advised and dangerous. This bill would set back scientific research that can improve—and even save—the lives of the women and families in our state. It would also undermine the empathetic, compassionate counseling and care we as physicians are dedicated to providing our patients.”

Additionally, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) released a letter from dozens of medical schools in January opposed to bills like SB 1404 that seek to prohibit fetal tissue research. University of Washington, Idaho’s public medical school through the‘WWAMI’ program, signed on to the letter.

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