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Idaho health care providers sign letter opposing language in abortion bans

Hundreds of protesters fill the frame at an abortion rights rally at the the Idaho Statehouse on May 14, 2022. They are holding signs that say, "Abort Patriarchy," "No Country for Old Men" and "Public Cervix."
George Prentice
Boise State Public Radio
A May 14, 2022 pro-abortion rights rally at the Idaho Statehouse

As courts sort out the future of Idaho’s abortion bans, a group of doctors in the state is coming together to voice their concerns.

The Idaho Coalition for Safe Reproductive Health formed this summer after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. It was a way to get Idaho medical providers on the same page about what the state’s abortion bans would mean for them.

“There are lots of conversations happening within physician groups, and break rooms, and within people's regions, and a lot of confusion,” said Dr. Lauren Miller who works in maternal-fetal medicine at St. Luke’s in the Treasure Valley.

The coalition recently put out an open letter highlighting its issues with Idaho’s abortion bans. It's been signed by more than 350 health care professionals in the state – from obstetricians to cardiologists to hospital administrators.

“All of us have concerns about the way the language is written and how it may impact our ability to take care of our patients,” Miller said.

The letter said the providers include people with diverse opinions about abortion in general.

“People have different religious, moral, ethical upbringings in their own personal lives.”

Miller said where the signees agree, though, is on their thoughts about how Idaho’s abortion bans could affect medical care in the state.

Some of the laws are set to go into effect this month, barring court action, including a 2020 trigger law that, if violated, could mean prison time and the suspension of a medical license for health care providers.

“We've put our hearts and our souls into taking care of our patients,” Miller said, “and to have the potential to have your license taken away from you or go to jail for taking care of an ectopic pregnancy, or treating a partial molar pregnancy, have a lot of us very, very concerned, and that is why there are so many signatures on this letter.”

Planned Parenthood is suing the state, in part, because it claims language in the trigger law, allowing doctors a defense against providing an abortion if the life of the patient is threatened, is too vague.

The state has said the terms in the law are clear to physicians.

The coalition of health care providers is beginning to reach out to Idaho lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in an attempt to revise the laws.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

I cover environmental issues, outdoor recreation and local news for Boise State Public Radio. Beyond reporting, I contribute to the station’s digital strategy efforts and enjoy thinking about how our work can best reach and serve our audience. The best part of my job is that I get to learn something new almost every day.

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