BOISE, Idaho — On Wednesday, House Resolution 5 generated passionate debate on the topic of abortion in the Idaho House. Republican Rep. Barbra Ehardt is sponsoring the idea, to “acknowledge the loss of life from the millions of unborn children since the supreme court's decision in Roe v. Wade.”
In the resolution, Ehardt lays out a way she would like to honor the occasion. It reads:
“That January 22, in perpetuity, hereby be recognized as the Day of Tears in Idaho and that the citizens of Idaho be encouraged to lower their flags to half-staff to mourn the innocents who have lost their lives to abortion.”
Ehardt kicked off the debate, explaining her idea.
“What we're actually doing is we are creating a day of remembrance, it's helping us to remember an egregious wrong that's been perpetrated on our kids, on the United States. And I hope we don't have to continue to remember it because I believe that in less than a year from now, we are going to be able to celebrate because the laws are going to be changed and it's going to be sent back to the states as it should. That is my hope,” Ehardt said during the debate.
Rep. Ehardt is referring to the expected challenge to Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court. If the conservative-leaning court reversed the landmark case, women could lose their right to an abortion.
Idaho democrats responded in debate to push back on the idea, specifically the part that involved lowering flags. Debate for critics of the idea wasn’t centered on abortion or reproductive rights, but instead, respecting the American flag.
“Is this the path we want to take as political parties that we hijack and use this as a billboard to carry some political, divisive message? This flag deserves so much more respect. And by taking advantage of it and using it to spew whatever divisive message you want is a complete, shameful, disrespectful to this flag and the people who have served. Serving it?” said Rep. Brooke Green of Boise.
The legislation is a resolution, meaning it’s basically a message from lawmakers. A similar piece of legislation already passed the Idaho Senate. Still, critics of lowering the flag for a day of tears highlight that lowering the flag has specific conditions about who can order it on the federal, state, and local level.
“Only presidents. Governors of states. Territories or possessions can issue half-staff orders,” said Rep. Sally Toone of Gooding.
Ehardt pushed back, explaining her idea.
“For private businesses to consider lowering their flags at half-staff, there's no mandate. There's nothing that would fly in the face of honoring others who pass on, but we will admit that we lowered that step that flag for many reasons and to honor a large segment who's no longer here, I believe, would be a good use of those who would like to join in with this,” Ehardt said.
Debate continued along the lines of paying tribute to lives lost through abortion and respecting the American flag.
“This isn't about whether you're pro-life or pro-choice, this has nothing to do, your vote today should not be informed in any way, shape or form by your feelings about abortion and its legality. This is about the proper treatment of our flag. Period. Full stop,” said House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel of Boise.
Ehardt disagreed, saying it was about honoring those lost.
“This isn't a cheap ploy. This is about putting us in a position to remember. And in our own way, doing something about it,” Ehardt said.
The Idaho House passed House Resolution 5 by a vote of 40 yes, 20 nay, and two lawmakers absent.
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