Respect for the sanctity of life is a defining value of civilized society. Since Roe v. Wade (1973), states throughout the United States have stood by as an increasingly-calloused minority publicly advocates for, and even celebrates, a supposed ‘right’ to destroy innocent and defenseless human lives, even to the point of demanding a supposed-right to destroy life post-delivery. Once the value of life is abandoned, it seems that there is no defining authority sufficient to reign in human behavior over any extended period of time, and the portended effects of this mind-set should be enough to send chills down any thoughtful person’s spine.
The overturning of this ruling does not come in a vacuum, nor has it caught the state of Idaho off-guard. It is the culmination of decades of persistent pro-life advocacy and arguments. Many of these arguments have been made within the halls of state legislatures, and Idaho is no exception. In 1973, when Roe v. Wade was handed down, Idaho was one of a small handful of states that actually chose to make that ruling part of state law. This included language which came straight from Roe v. Wade listing reasons an abortion is justified. These incredibly transient and subjective justifications include “potential stigma,” “potential stress,” or the fact that a child is “unwanted.”
Since that time, with education and a defined shift in public sentiment, the landscape of the Idaho legislature has also changed significantly. During the 2022 legislative session, it was my privilege to carry House Bill 521(H521), removing this offensive Roe v. Wade language from Idaho state code in anticipation of a renewed commitment on the part of the Supreme Court to the protection of life. H521 passed both the Idaho House and Senate with a solid super-majority and was signed into law.
In addition, Idaho passed a heartbeat bill in 2021. This law is a trigger law, meaning that it stipulates that it goes into effect 30 days after Roe v. Wade is overturned. This will happen without any further action on the part of the legislature and will begin saving lives long before the next legislative session. This new addition to Idaho state code was re-visited in 2022 and further refined. It is modeled after a Texas heartbeat bill which has been upheld and provides a cause of action in court against an individual performing an abortion. These preparations have been effective and abortion providers do not have to wait to know that Idaho stands solidly on the side of life. Even prior to the formal issuance of the ruling, these facilities have been preparing to terminate the performance of abortions in Idaho.
As we move forward into 2023, there will likely be continuing discussion about how to most effectively protect life in the state of Idaho. Whatever new proposals may come forward, Idahoans should know that their representatives have taken substantive, proactive steps in anticipation of a post-Roe world where Idaho representatives will exercise our Constitutional prerogative. As a woman and a mother, I stand prepared and ready, along with many of my legislative peers, to advocate for this most fundamental value of civilized society– the preservation and sanctity of human life.
This Op-Ed was submitted by Rep. Julianne Young (R-Blackfoot). Note: Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.