Abortion, the issue that dominated Idaho's 1990 legislative session and altered this month's elections, may not surface at all during the 1991 session.
Checking the election returns, Freedom Means Choice President Lisa Booth of Boise could count at least 21 of the 42 state Senate members endorsed by her pro-choice organization. There were an additional three members who opposed the 1990 bill to restrict the bulk of abortions in this state but were not allied with the pro-choice coalition."I don't think it's going to come up this session," Booth predicted Thursday.
Right to Life of Idaho President Debbie Roper of Boise is not ready to concede the loss of the Senate to a pro-choice majority. Instead, she says the margin is closer. But Roper can see other hurdles:
Legislators who followed their constituents' wishes in supporting the anti-abortion bill may now find the political winds shifting.
Gov. Cecil Andrus, rebuked by Right to Life for his veto of the anti-abortion bill, was overwhelmingly re-elected. Andrus has maintained his pro-life stand but stressed his difficulties with portions of the vetoed legislation.
"It wouldn't be prudent to speculate on Right to Life legislation at this time," Roper said. "It's the consensus of Right to Life of Idaho that Andrus would never sign any pro-life bill."
For Right to Life, the question may involve trying to pass something less comprehensive than the 1990 bill. One example may be a parental consent requirement for minors seeking an abortion.
For Freedom Means Choice, one question may be whether to seek passage of a measure guaranteeing a woman's right to an abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses its 1973 decision in Roe vs. Wade.
"We really haven't discussed full-blown what our legislative committee will do yet," Booth said. "I think the majority would just like to see the laws stay the way they are."
Regardless of what steps it takes in the Legislature, Right to Life will wage a grassroots campaign to win support at the future polls.
"We will now begin encouraging the Idaho public to say no and to deny the right to take away the life of the unborn child," Roper said. "There's a process there . . . whereby a society realizes that something appears to be acceptable, but society is beginning to understand it is very wrong."
Roper maintained the legislative allies lost were more casualties of political circumstances.
"Abortion had a role, but it was not the main one," she said.
Among the victims were the state Senate architect of Idaho's anti-abortion bill and a Republican Senate leader who strongly backed that bill, and both conceded that their positions were the catalyst for their narrow defeats at the polls.
"I do think it made a difference," said freshman Republican Roger Madsen of Boise. "It mobilized $30,000 and 100 foot soldiers."