Idaho anti-abortion and pro-choice activists are reacting with joy and outrage at Utah's restrictive abortion bill, similar to one vetoed in Boise last spring.
The bill sailed through both the Utah House and Senate and past the governor's desk within three days."We feel particularly vindicated because this legislation was so very similar (to Idaho House Bill 625)," said Debbie Roper, president of Right to Life of Idaho.
"It takes away a lot of the disappointment" of Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus' veto last March of what would have been the nation's most restrictive abortion law. Andrus said he was anti-abortion but had problems with several aspects of the bill passed by the Idaho Legislature.
"Not only did we help them (Utah's anti-abortion movement), but they completed what we started," Roper said. "We wanted to see Roe vs. Wade directly challenged, and that will happen now."
Kerry Uhlenkott, legislative coordinator for Right to Life of Idaho, said a Utah right-to-life group "consulted with us prior to their doing anything."
"We really did not do much more than that," she said. "They were really on their own."
Janet Crepps, legislative coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union, said, "It was good for Idaho not to let 625 go into law because the election results showed that that bill did not reflect the majority opinion in the state."
Two key supporters of the anti-abortion bill - Republican Sens. Rod Beck and Roger Madsen of Boise - were defeated by pro-choice candidates, throwing the Idaho Senate into a 21-21 tie.
"It makes me even more proud of all the people in Idaho who came out on the issue last year because it really did make a difference," Crepps said. "I don't think Utah had a chance to get something like that together."
Dawn Johnson, legal director for the National Abortion Rights Action League in Washington, D.C., said she believes the Utah Legislature deliberately greased the track for the abortion legislation.
"They wanted to ram it through so that it wouldn't attract all the attention it has in other states," she said. "It's alarming they can do it without a full debate of the issue."
Roper disagreed,adding the Utah victory was due to sound legislation.
Idaho's HB625 would have banned all abortions except in cases of rape reported to police within seven days, incest involving a minor, profound fetal deformity and threats to the life or health of the mother. It allowed only for civil fines for doctors who performed unlawful abortions.
Utah's legislation says that anyone performing, procuring or supplying an abortion could be charged with a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.