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Idaho group says it’s studying ballot initiative for abortion and reproductive care rights

BOISE, Idaho– A new Idaho organization says it will ask voters to restore access to abortion and other reproductive health care rights in the state after lawmakers let a second legislative session end without changes strict abortion bans that have been blamed for a recent exodus of health care providers.

“We have not been able to get a solution from our legislators, from our politicians. We’re going to seek a solution from our people,” Melanie Folwell, spokesperson for Idahoans United for Women and Families, said Friday morning. “Idahoans understand the contours of this problem.”

Idaho has several anti-abortion laws on the books, including one that makes abortion a felony even in a medical emergency unless it is performed to save the life of the pregnant patient. The federal government sued Idaho over the ban, saying it violates a federal law that requires hospitals to provide stabilization care — including abortion — if the life or health of a patient is seriously threatened.

Idaho lawyers say the ban allows life-saving procedures for things like ectopic pregnancies, and they argue the Biden administration is trying to create a “federal abortion loophole” at Idaho hospitals. Idaho.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case on Wednesday.

Idahoans United for Women and Families is fundraising and hopes to have one or more ballot initiatives ready to go this summer with the goal of putting them on the 2026 ballot, Folwell said.

Across the country, there have been efforts to ask voters about abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and removed the national right to abortion. Voters in seven states sided with abortion rights supporters on ballot measures, and several other states have launched signature drives for future ballot initiatives.

Cynthia Dalsing, a certified nurse midwife in northern Idaho and board member of Idahoans United for Women and Families, said her region has gone from offering a “range of obstetric services first order” to that of a desert of maternal care after the departure of the four local obstetricians. State.

Pregnant women in the state’s panhandle now must either travel up to 80 miles or leave the state entirely for obstetric care, Dalsing said. Some give birth at home for lack of other options, she said.

About a quarter of Idaho’s obstetricians have stopped practicing since a near-total ban on abortion took effect in August 2022, along with about half of the state’s maternal-fetal medicine doctors, according to data compiled by the Idaho Physician Well-Being Action Collaborative. Three hospitals closed their labor and delivery units.

Some doctors and companies warn that abortion bans also lead to other ripple effects.

At a news conference Thursday, Dr. Jim Souza said reduced access to prenatal health care means some dangerous pregnancy conditions will be diagnosed later than usual. Souza, chief medical officer of the Boise-based St. Luke’s Health System, said that could lead to an increased need for intensive medical treatments for newborns or costly medical interventions for mothers that could have been avoided through to better access to obstetric care.

A coalition of groups including the United States Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Levi Strauss & Co., Yelp, Lyft and Match Group Inc., which runs dating apps like Tinder, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case, saying the bans on Abortion makes it more difficult to recruit and retain workers and leads to increased working hours for those who must travel elsewhere to receive care.

ABC News

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