The Idaho Republican Party on Saturday amended its platform to oppose abortion in all instances, including as a life-saving procedure for a pregnant woman. The party platform now supports more restrictions on abortion than currently exist in any state law and declares abortion to be "murder from the moment of fertilization," even when it is required to save a woman's life.
Scott Herndon, a Bonner County resident running unopposed for the Idaho Senate, sponsored the platform amendment. "For the last 49 years we have essentially lost the argument in the culture because we have focused on abortion as the termination of a pregnancy and not the termination of a living human being," Herndon said to fellow delegates, according to the Idaho Capital Sun. "We will never win this human rights issue, the greatest of our time, if we make allowances for the intentional killing of another human being."
According to the Idaho Capital Sun, the party did, however, approve an amendment clarifying that miscarriages should not be subject to criminal penalties. However, language regarding miscarriage does not appear in the finished platform. Reason reached out to the Idaho GOP for confirmation but has not received a reply at the time of publication.
Contrary to Herndon's position, the most strident pro-life activists have long argued that life-saving abortions are not actually abortions. "Abortion is not necessary to save a woman's life," reads an FAQ from the Life Institute. "Treatment for conditions arising in pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia or sepsis, are NOT abortions, even if the life of the baby is lost, as the intention is not to harm the baby."
The Idaho GOP's platform throws this reasoning out with the bath water. According to the Idaho Reports Blog, an amendment to allow exceptions for "lethal danger" was proposed, with supporting delegates citing ectopic pregnancy concerns. That amendment was defeated 412–164. Herndon "vocally opposed adding the exemption" and "argued that both lives, meaning fetus and mother, are of equal value in that situation."
If the Idaho GOP can turn this platform position into law, Idaho women could be legally compelled to die from eclampsia, infections due to incomplete miscarriage (the treatment of which would constitute abortion to the Idaho GOP), and ectopic pregnancy, which is the leading cause of first-trimester maternal death, according to the University of California, Davis Health System.
The new platform doesn't necessarily seem like a real attempt to court voters. A 2022 Pew Research survey found that only 8 percent of Americans support a total ban on abortion with no exceptions. Even among self-described Republican voters, only 16 percent support such stringent restrictions. According to Pew, pro-choice extremism is slightly more popular, with 19 percent supporting legal abortion with no exceptions, a number that rises to 30 percent among Democratic voters.
Americans, it seems, are not broadly supportive of any extreme abortion policy. Time will tell if their elected representatives will listen to them.