LEWISTON MORNING TRIBUNE
January 28, 2001
Activists argue Idaho funds unnecessary abortions
By DAN GALLAGHER
OF THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BOISE, Idaho - Anti-abortion activists observing the anniversary of the
landmark Roe v. Wade court decision Saturday announced a measure will be
introduced in the Idaho Legislature to halt taxpayer funding for what they call
They also praised the new administration of President George W Bush, who has
moved to bar federal funds for international family planning groups involved
with abortion and ordered a review on the government's approval of the RU-486
"An abortion for health reasons should not be confused with an abortion to
save the life of the mother," Kerry Uhlenkott, legislative coordinator of Right
to Life of Idaho Inc., told hundreds of supporters who marched to the Boise
Statehouse on Saturday. "We've learned the health exception is a wide-open
loophole and equals abortion on demand."
Uhlenkott said her group supports the Idaho Chooses Life organization's goal
to eliminate Medicaid funding of abortions performed when the health of the
mother, but not her life, is at risk.
She said a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which was a companion piece to the 1973
Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortions, included under the health umbrella
the age of the mother, her psychological or economic state, social status and
health of the baby.
"Our research shows Idaho is one of only 16 states that provide Medicaid
funding for so-called health abortions and is one of five forced to by state
law," Uhlenkott said, adding about 240 of the procedures have taken place in the
state since 1995 at a cost of more than $100,000.
She said the vast majority of Idahoans, even those who are pro-choice, don't
want their tax money to be used for abortion.
Uhlenkott cited one case where a woman in Minnesota was able to get a funded
abortion because of morning sickness and another in Indiana who received one
because she disliked her appearance in a swimsuit.
The Idaho Chooses Life group announced Sen. Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, and
Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, would introduce the Idaho legislation.
Lawmakers last session passed a measure requiring minors to obtain parental
or judicial consent before receiving an abortion. Enforcement of that law has
been blocked by a federal magistrate.
The Rev. Peter West of Priests for Life, a group of Roman Catholic priests
against abortions, said he has seen the damage from abortions, physically and
"Abortion isn't a service, it doesn't help women," he said. "The baby dies
once but the woman dies a little bit each day."
Bush said Friday that federal money should not be used for research on fetal
tissue or on so-called stem cells derived from abortions, which are used to find
therapies for numerous diseases.
"I hope President Bush is true to his promises," West said. "He says he wants
all children to be welcomed into life and protected by law. I have great hopes
he is a man of his word."
Officials from Planned Parenthood of Idaho and the American Civil Liberties
Union, which battled the parental consent measure in court, were unavailable for
comment Saturday evening.