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Idaho Planned Parenthood: Texas Restrictions Are ‘Loud Alarm That Access To Abortion In Real Danger’

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Boise State Public Radio, Flickr, NPR
Reproductive rights advocates expect more abortion challenges from the 2022 Idaho Legislature.

Advocates say, while reproductive rights are under threat by recent measures from the Idaho Legislature, abortion is still legal in the Gem State. But when the most restrictive law in a generation took effect in Texas – banning abortion after six weeks – advocates of Planned Parenthood said the Texas law is a “wake-up” call for Idaho.

“The ruling in Texas really sets a dangerous precedent of taking away rights to abortion in Idaho,” said Mistie DelliCarpini-Tollman, state director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates. “This is a loud alarm that access to abortion is in real danger, especially here in our state.”

DelliCarpini-Tollman visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about the mood inside her organization, how she expects the Idaho Legislature to react to the Texas legislation and how it’s a “call-to-action” for those who support reproductive rights in the Gem State.

“It's definitely, I hope, a wake-up call to a lot of folks.”
Mistie DelliCarpini-Tollman

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It is Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning. I'm George Prentice. Abortion in Idaho is legal. This year, the Idaho Legislature did pass a measure which has become known in other states as a “fetal heartbeat bill.” The law contains language allowing it to take effect 30 days after a federal appeals court upholds similar legislation in another state. A federal appeals court.  Now, keep that in mind as we bring in Misty DelliCarpini Tollman, state director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates. Misty, good morning.

MISTIE DELLICARPINI-TOLLMAN: Good morning, George.

PRENTICE: First off, before we get into legal details of this, what is the mood within your organization this morning?

DELLICARPINI-TOLLMAN: You know, I think that most of the folks, most of my colleagues within Planned Parenthood and across our partners in the reproductive health and rights movement, are feeling pretty somber. We're feeling a lot of solidarity with our colleagues in Texas and thinking about what they're going through right now. And it's really… honestly kind of solidifying some resolve within us to keep the work going.

PRENTICE: So, we know last week the U.S. Supreme Court, in a late night ruling, gave the OK for the state of Texas to outlaw all abortions. And there are more restrictions there. But Misty, what does that mean in Idaho?

DELLICARPINI-TOLLMAN: The ruling in Texas really sets a dangerous precedent of taking away rights to abortion in Idaho. This is a loud alarm that access to abortion is in real danger, especially here in our state. And while abortion does remain legal in Idaho today, I want to stress that - and I might a few times in our conversation today -  abortion does remain legal. A ban on abortion as early as six weeks could go into effect. Like you said, if the Supreme Court or an appellate court across the country rules in favor of a similarly restrictive ban. Again, we want to make it clear that abortion is still legal in Idaho today. And we are not new to this fight. We're not going to back down in our fight to keep abortion safe and legal in all of our states. But it's definitely, I hope, a wake up call to a lot of folks.

PRENTICE: So, to that end, is it fair to say that abortion rights in Idaho are more tentative with each passing day?

DELLICARPINI-TOLLMAN: What we saw in Texas is something that we can almost be guaranteed that that we will see in the Idaho Legislature this next session. I think we'll see similar legislation. We've seen even in this past session, even during a devastating global pandemic, our Idaho Legislature is spending a lot of time going above and beyond to restrict access to abortion. Reproductive health and rights organizations have actually been sounding the alarm for years. And once Justices Kavanaugh and Coney Barrett were confirmed, we knew that Roe v. Wade was in grave danger. And watching the Supreme Court allow Texas’ unconstitutional, six week abortion ban go into effect - which, by the way, six weeks is before many people even know they're pregnant. We're talking two weeks after a missed period. Watching the court's failure to protect Texans’ access to basic health care really ignores the people that are going to be impacted by these horrific laws. And it's something that we're watching closely for Idaho to try and do as well.

PRENTICE: So, talk to me about your high ground. How does your strategy point to any success?

DELLICARPINI-TOLLMAN: I think that given everything we're talking about, given what we're seeing in Texas, given the impending Supreme Court case out of Mississippi, it's more clear than ever that now is when we must do all that we can to preserve access to abortion across the country. We're going to continue to fight, city by city and state by state. And not just state houses, but in city halls across the country to ensure that people can still access the health care they need. And we're looking and examining every angle and every avenue. We're looking at the political avenues, the legal avenues, the advocacy avenues to make sure that the reality of Texas right now is not going to become the reality of this country and it is not going to become the reality in Idaho.

PRENTICE: How many clinics perform abortion services in Idaho?

DELLICARPINI-TOLLMAN: We have three clinics in Idaho. We have one in Boise, one in Meridian and one in Twin Falls. And they currently all provide abortions.

PRENTICE: In 2019, we saw, pre-pandemic, we saw rallies in Idaho – “Stop the Ban” rallies - supporting abortion rights. What's your sense of something like that happening in 2021?

DELLICARPINI-TOLLMAN: I think that both for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, which is our affiliate, as well as our partner organizations, we are examining obviously the environment that we're working within. We feel a grave responsibility to take the lives and health and safety of our supporters and activists into account when we're creating plans to try and fight these heinous laws that are popping up around the country. I can't say for sure whether or not we'll be able to have rallies.  We’re measuring what's happening with COVID minute by minute and seeing what is and isn't safe for us to be asking people to do. And the one good thing is, this last year, this last session, for instance, we entered the legislative session completely ignorant and not understanding exactly how we were going to be able to activate our supporters and be able to provide them with opportunities to be able to engage in the legislative process. And by the end of that session, we were like experts in how to train our activists to provide online testimony and how to sign up for it and where to go and where to be and providing them support. And so, we've gotten a lot of experience of last year and how to mobilize folks virtually. And so, we're ready either way. We're ready to come together on statehouse steps, on city hall steps, if that's safe to do. And if not, we're ready to engage folks, mobilize and continue to get their voices inside the statehouses and in their elected officials offices in whatever way we can.

PRENTICE: She is Mistie DelliCarpini-Tollman - in Idaho, she’s the state director of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates. Thank you for giving us some time this morning.

DELLICARPINI-TOLLMAN: Absolutely. Thanks so much, George.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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