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City of Boise passes resolution to minimize the impact of Idaho abortion ban

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The Boise City Council adopted a resolution on Tuesday saying the city will not ask law enforcement to direct resources towards investigating abortion providers when a state trigger law goes into effect.

Mayor Lauren McLean spoke before the vote saying Boise has higher priorities when it comes to public safety.

“There's an expectation that we will divert public safety resources from other priorities to investigate claims and to investigate doctors, to investigate individuals,” she said. “That's not something that our city will do.”

The resolution passed 3-2, with council members Holli Woodings, Jimmy Hallyburton and Lisa Sanchez voting in favor.

Council member Elaine Clegg said she supports abortion rights but does not believe health care is a city issue. Both she and Luci Willits voted against the resolution.

“We need to get back to the business of Boise,” Willits said. “Not charge into these issues that nationalize our City Council that hyperpolarize local government.”

Willits said the city should focus on parks, libraries, managing growth, reducing taxes and making sure garbage is collected on time.

“Those are the things that I'm passionate about,” Willits said.

The resolution also says unless required by State or Federal Law, city funds will not be used to catalog reports of abortions being performed. This includes collecting and sharing identifying information with other governmental agencies about anyone seeking or receiving abortion services.

Boise Police tweeted in June that pending legal review and input from the City Council, they were “not planning on providing additional resources to investigate reports regarding abortion.”

“We understand that there are many strong feelings on this issue and will follow the direction of our legal team,” the tweet added.

Following the repeal of Roe v. Wade on June 24, Mayor McLean had expressed her anger over the decision.

“I am infuriated, & intensely worried” she tweeted.

“The decision to terminate a pregnancy is deeply personal and private. This decision by the Supreme Court will have devastating consequences on the health, privacy and economic independence of women throughout our community, state, and nation.”

At the Council Meeting, she addressed concerns the resolution was not the City’s business.

“Any time people in our community feel targeted or marginalized,” she said, “we as a city have made statements to support them because the folks don't feel as though they can fully participate.”

Council member Sanchez agreed.

“I absolutely think it's our business,” she said.

“When we're talking about people being afraid to call an ambulance because they might be experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, that would all of a sudden not only put their lives in danger, but also their freedom.”

She also said medical providers could hesitate to treat patients,

“All that does is put our greater community in peril,” she said.

Boise joins other Democratic communities in Republican states seeking ways around abortion bans. Atlanta, Austin, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Phoenix and Tucson have all stated they would not shift law enforcement resources towards investigating and prosecuting abortions.

The Idaho law banning most abortions in the state is expected to go into effect sometime in August.

The City of Boise resolution is effective immediately upon adoption.

As the Canyon County reporter, I cover the Latina/o/x communities and agricultural hub of the Treasure Valley. I’m super invested in local journalism and social equity, and very grateful to be working in Idaho.