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Fetus or 'preborn child?' Idaho law may soon favor the latter term

A woman standing in front of a small microphone with several people sitting behind her in rows.
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
Rep. Julianne Young (R-Blackfoot) debating a bill on the House floor in this undated file photo. Young's latest proposal would eliminate the use of the word "fetus" throughout state law.

The first bill introduced in the 2024 Idaho legislative session would completely eliminate all references in state law to the word fetus.

“This bill replaces the term ‘fetus’ or variations of the term ‘fetus’ with the term ‘preborn child,’” said Rep. Julianne Young (R-Blackfoot).

Young told the House State Affairs Committee Tuesday morning that the proposed change wouldn’t have a substantive effect.

“But it does replace a medicalized term with a term that we all understand to be a person, which is the position of the state of Idaho,” she said.

Anti-abortion rights advocates have used the term “preborn child” for the past few years, saying it’s a much more accurate term. In all, the legislation replaces more than 70 uses of the word fetus across several different sections of state code.

Here are some of the most common asked about terms related to the Idaho legislature arranged in alphabetical order because we’re nice like that.

Lawmakers can’t debate the merits of a bill during an introductory hearing. But Rep. Colin Nash (D-Boise) asked Young to prepare to answer several questions he has about the legislation.

“Is this an expression of values, or trying to make this more consistent with Idaho code, or is there a potential of a conveyance of further legal rights?”

Two states that have implemented strict bans on abortion like Arizona and Georgia have granted legal personhood status to fetuses. A federal court has since blocked Arizona’s statute, saying it was too vague.

Georgia’s law allows expecting parents to count their unborn fetus as a dependent while filing their income taxes.

Lawmakers could hold a public hearing on the bill as early as later this week.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!

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