The Rockin Johnny B

Monday, March 5, 2012

Families under attack in Idaho

Idaho Republicans step up assault on women, families
   As a woman, a wife and a mother, it is clear to me that there is an attack on Idaho families by the GOP in the Idaho Legislature.
   Yes, it is an election year, and since the Republicans have closed their primary, it isn’t surprising to see legislators catering to extremists instead of focusing on legitimate legislation that would help get Idahoans back on their feet, provide our children with the world-class education they need to be competitive and the meaningful ethics reform needed to restore faith and confidence in our state government.
   It seems, instead, that they really do want women in Idaho to be barefoot and pregnant.
   Several bills introduced in the Legislature this session show that what I am saying is true. First, in the Senate, a memorial was submitted that seeks to reject the regulation that requires private health insurance plans to cover the costs of contraceptives. This memorial is nothing more than a grandiose statement claiming that Idahoans don’t agree with the regulation. It ignores the fact that 90 percent of women in America will use contraceptives sometime in their life.
   Idaho families deserve family planning tools that are fair and accessible to all. This memorial actually threatens personal freedoms and the rights of all Idahoans more than it protects them.
   A second bill is worse. It suggests that the elderly, disabled or terminally ill are being allowed to die because their families and doctors deny them vital life-saving treatment. This is a ridiculous claim that has no factual basis whatsoever.
   Even so, on the one hand this bill allows doctors to refuse to treat patients if that treatment goes against the doctor’s religious beliefs while, on the other hand, it allows them to ignore the instructions of the patient and the decisions of family members for end-of-life care. This is a direct attack on a family’s freedom to make the best decision they can about medical intervention under difficult circumstances.
   Finally, saving the best for last, or in this case the worst, a bill has been introduced which requires an ultrasound procedure before any Idaho woman could end a pregnancy. This bill, similar to those being introduced in other states, would ultimately require most women to receive an internal ultrasound before termination.
   It is outrageous to believe that we can require someone to have that type of invasive medical procedure against their will and not consider it a violation of a person’s rights. Idaho citizens have a right to determine their own health-care needs and what is best for them.
   These kinds of bills are proof that while our GOP-controlled legislature could be focused on ways to improve the quality of life of Idahoans around our state, they are instead focused on stripping rights away from individuals and families in the name of religion or morality. For a party that likes to talk about limiting government, these intrusive bills go against everything they claim to stand for and the very thing our soldiers continue to fight so hard to protect: our freedom.
   Regardless of religious affiliation, I think that we can all agree God has blessed us with the ability to love one another, plan our families, raise our children and take care of our aging parents. Protection of our individual rights should be tantamount to allowing Idaho families to prosper.
   At least we women still have the right to vote ... for now.
   n Sally Boynton Brown is communications director of the Idaho Democratic Party. You can email her  .

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