Abortion bill heads to governor despite privacy concerns

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A proposal that would increase reporting requirements for abortion providers is headed to the Idaho governor’s desk for his consideration despite some opponents decrying the bill as an invasion of privacy.

The measure cleared the Senate on a 21-14 vote Wednesday after several hours of debate, with critics calling it “invasive.”

Some of the personal information required in the proposal is already collected by the state’s health and welfare agency, but under the bill it would be required by law to report details such as woman’s age, race, how many children she has, if any of their children have died and how many abortions they’ve had in the past.

“I find this bill very invasive,” said Sen. Shawn Keough, a Republican from Sandpoint and co-chair of the budget-setting panel. “My record is 50-50 on abortion bills, which is well known, but this one is going to cost us a lot of money.”

The bill outlines a list of abortion complications such as infection, blood clots and hemorrhaging that must be reported by providers, hospitals and clinics to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. Depression, anxiety and sleeping disorders must also be reported.

The state would compile the information for an annual report and make it available to the Legislature and the public, but identifying information would not be disclosed.

“I’ve never debated against an abortion bill,” said Sen. Steven Thayn, a Republican from Emmett. “But this sounds more like a totalitarian state to me. If this was any other subject, we wouldn’t put up with this.”

Supporters, which include several anti-abortion groups, countered the measure is necessary to ensure abortions are provided safely.

“We’re talking about the unknowns,” said Sen. Fred Martin, a Republican from Boise and the bill’s sponsor. “The data we’ve been receiving is sketchy because of the source. We’re just trying to get better data.”

Some dismissed fears that bill unfairly targeted women’s medical history.

“There’s not any men having abortions, so this is not a gender issue,” said Sen. Marv Hagedorn, a Republican from Meridian who is running to be lieutenant governor in the upcoming May primary. “This is an issue about a medical procedure that we don’t have the data on.”

The abortion provider and facility where the abortion was performed must also be reported.

Similar proposals have been introduced in Indiana and Arizona this year. At least 20 states have such laws on the books, though the amount of detail that must be reported varies, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which opposes abortion restrictions.

Yet the group notes that interest in such laws has spiked after a 2016 U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas restrictions that had contributed to the shuttering of more than half of the state’s abortion clinics.

At the time, the court found there was insufficient data to justify the restrictions, which required doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals and forced clinics to meet hospital-like standards.

Idaho courts have also overturned some state laws targeting abortion due to a lack of information about the complications surrounding the procedure.

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