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Idaho Organization Seeks Voter Support To Restore Abortion Access

An attendee at Planned Parenthood's Bans Off Our Bodies rally for abortion rights holds a sign reading "Idaho the women as property state" outside of the Idaho Statehouse in downtown Boise, Ida

A new Idaho organization is gearing up to ask voters to restore abortion access and other reproductive health care rights in the state. This initiative comes after lawmakers allowed a second legislative session to end without making any changes to the strict abortion bans that have led to a recent exodus of health care providers.

Idahoans United for Women and Families, the organization behind this effort, plans to address the issue through the people of Idaho since legislative fixes have not been successful. The state currently has several anti-abortion laws in place, including one that criminalizes performing abortions even in medical emergencies, except when necessary to save the life of the pregnant patient.

The federal government has taken legal action against Idaho over this ban, arguing that it violates a federal law requiring hospitals to provide stabilizing care, including abortion, in cases where a patient's life or health is at serious risk. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on this case soon.

Idahoans United for Women and Families is actively fundraising and aims to have one or more ballot initiatives ready for proposal by this summer, with the goal of getting them on the 2026 ballot. This move aligns with a broader trend across the country, where efforts to address abortion rights through voter initiatives have been on the rise since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The impact of the abortion bans in Idaho has been significant, with a notable decline in obstetric and maternal care services. Several local obstetricians have relocated out of state, leading to a shortage of services in certain regions. Pregnant women in northern Idaho now face challenges in accessing obstetric care, with some resorting to delivering babies at home due to limited options.

Data shows that approximately one-quarter of Idaho obstetricians have ceased practicing since the near-total abortion ban went into effect, along with about half of the state's maternal fetal medicine doctors. This has resulted in the closure of labor and delivery units in three hospitals.

Physicians and businesses have raised concerns about the broader implications of the abortion bans, including delayed diagnosis of pregnancy conditions and increased need for intensive medical treatment for newborns or costly interventions for mothers. The reduced access to prenatal health care has the potential to impact both maternal and infant health outcomes.

A coalition of groups, including the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce and various companies, has filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case, highlighting the negative effects of the abortion bans on workforce recruitment and retention. They argue that these restrictions make it harder for employees to access necessary care, leading to increased time off work and other challenges.

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