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A Republican candidate, Bob Nonini, who is running for lieutenant governor in Idaho, made the controversial statement on Monday as part of a conservative Christian podcast’s candidate forum.
“There should be no abortion and anyone who has an abortion should pay,” Nonini said.
Pressed by moderators on the nature of the punishment, Nonini nodded in agreement when asked if he supported the death penalty as a possible outcome for abortion.
Nonini, a three term state senator from Coeur d’Alene, confirmed that position in a phone interview with The Associated Press.
On Tuesday he softened his stance that women who get an abortion should be punished if it is ever criminalized in Idaho, by saying in a statement: “Prosecutions have always been focused on the abortionist.” “There is no way a woman would go to jail let alone face the death penalty. The statute alone, the threat of prosecution, would dramatically reduce abortion. That is my goal.”
“I strongly support the overturning of Roe v. Wade,” Nonini said:
That would allow states like Idaho to re-criminalize abortion as a deterrent. However, it is my understanding that in the history of the United States, long before Roe was foisted upon this country; no woman has ever been prosecuted for undergoing abortion. That is for practical reasons, as well as for reasons of compassion.
Roe v. Wade is a landmark decision issued in 1973 by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of the constitutionality of laws that criminalized or restricted access to abortions. The Court ruled 7–2 that a right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman's decision to have an abortion, but that this right must be balanced against the state's interests in regulating abortions: protecting women's health and protecting the potentiality of human life. Arguing that these state interests became stronger over the course of a pregnancy, the Court resolved this balancing test by tying state regulation of abortion to the third trimester of pregnancy.
Making abortion illegal would only increase the number of unsafe procedures. Things that really help in reducing the number of abortions are comprehensive sex education and access to affordable contraception.
Five Republicans are running in the May primary election after incumbent GOP Lt. Gov. Brad Little announced he would run for governor. Only Nonini, Idaho Falls businesswoman Janice McGeachin and former Idaho Republican Party Chairman Steve Yates were invited to attend the forum in Moscow hosted by the conservative Christian podcast CrossPolitic.
According to Idaho Statesman, both McGeachin and Yates say abortion is murder, but stopped short of supporting charging women with first-degree murder for undergoing the procedure.
“No, I cannot support a woman facing the death penalty for having an abortion,” said McGeachin. “What we should do is prevent that.”
Yates downplayed that criminalizing abortion would result in fewer women seeking the procedure.
“In terms of criminalizing things, I have no problem with that except that doesn’t always solve the problem,” Yates said.
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