- Associated Press - Friday, February 19, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho is the latest state to consider making it illegal to buy, sell or donate fetal tissue, even though no such practice exists here.

The state Senate State Affairs Committee voted 7-2 along party lines Friday to introduce legislation that would make it a felony to distribute fetal tissue after an abortion. Similar legislation is pending in several other states, though no state has yet to pass such sweeping legislation.

The proposal is a response to undercover videos released last summer that alleged that Planned Parenthood officials were selling fetal tissue for profit. It was later determined the videos were altered. A Texas Grand Jury recently cleared the Planned Parenthood officials and instead indicted two anti-abortion advocates involved in making the videos.

David Ripley, director of Idaho Choose Life told the committee Friday the measure would further Idaho’s public policy “to promote live childhood over abortion.”

“It seeks to ensure that Idaho’s pre-born children are not subject to desecration after their deaths,” he said. “I think it’s important to emphasize that this is not, strictly speaking, an abortion bill.”

Ripley said the bill wouldn’t restrict a woman’s access to abortion, but would dictate what happens to the fetal tissue after the abortion.

The so-called “Idaho Unborn Infants Dignity Act” would also forbid clinics from donating fetal tissue and ban research centers and universities from using tissue for research.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle questioned whether the measure would prohibit women who delivered stillborn babies or who miscarried from donating the remains to science.

Ripley denied the bill would implement such a measure, but he did say the bill would prohibit a woman who had an abortion to donate the aborted fetus to science.

After news of the undercover videos broke, Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter declined to investigate Planned Parenthood in Idaho despite requests from multiple Republican lawmakers. Otter, a Republican, said he had no grounds for a legal investigation because there is no evidence Planned Parenthood has violated any state or federal laws in Idaho.

In Idaho, Planned Parenthood has health clinics in Boise, Meridian and Twin Falls.

“We clearly know that this is happening across the country,” Ripley said. “We know that many Planned Parenthood affiliates are engaging in organ harvesting and trafficking human tissue.”

It’s against federal law to sell fetal tissue and there are no documented cases in Idaho of abortion clinics donating fetal tissue.

However, Planned Parenthood in other states has donated fetal tissue and is reimbursed for those donations, said Hannah Brass Greer, legislative director for Planned Parenthood in Idaho.

She said she was concerned about the broadness of the bill and said they would be examining it with a fine tooth comb.

“I think it’s definitely a solution in search of problem that doesn’t exist here and doesn’t exist anywhere,” Brass Greer said.

Ripley said the bill has 17 co-sponsors including members of leadership. It will need to pass a Legislative hearing before it’s heard on the Senate floor.

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