Profiles

One doesn’t often think of politicians when the word “courage” is uttered, but we should. If our weak form of representative government is to preserve this republic, we need inspiration. Courage inspires; at least it should.

John F. Kennedy got the Pulitzer Prize for putting his name to a ghost-written book titled “Profiles in Courage”. It seems our Camelot President might have valued his profile a bit more than the courage he wanted to characterize. But then, if he would have demurred, maybe he’d just be an historical footnote, not the martyr we all remember.

And that conflict is what nurtures our cynicism. Just what will a politician do for our vote? Lie to us? Agree with us when they know we are wrong?

I am not sure just whom I am writing this to. We voters will always be wrong about one issue or another. Just remember prohibition, and its repeal. It was a popular wave and the politicians listened to us. But the bootlegger’s bonanza and rampant crime taught us our folly and the politicians listened to our recant. That is the way our republic is supposed to work. Recognize and learn from our mistakes.

I guess I want to inspire those who seek our votes. Here’s my plea. Don’t be too afraid of losing the voters support if you know we are wrong. We can come around. Your courage can help us as we make that turn.

I look for courage amongst those we vote for, or against, here in Idaho. The problem of our political landscape is inescapable. The super majority, the closed Republican primary makes any profiled politician an easy target. If one candidate has demonstrated courage, snipers from safe districts, under their safe cover can send their rounds across the no man’s land at the guy who stood up. The outlined profile is an easy target. Idaho, though disparate and distant, makes for a sniper’s playground. We, the voters need to provide the cover.

Do we really pay attention to the work our representatives do? Do we know if they have courage?

The hardest thing I had to do as a candidate, first time or incumbent, was to go knock on doors. Only one out of five would be home. That meant I’d talk directly to about two people an hour. My knees ached and the going was slow. It could be hot and dusty. But that effort is courageous. I can name a couple places in Idaho in the past twenty years where such effort has changed the partisan landscape. I appeal to you to recognize that courage.

The primary place I can think of where this happened was the initiative process for Medicaid Expansion in Idaho, lead by Reclaim Idaho. They beat the streets and knocked on doors and organized hundreds, even thousands of volunteers. It was not to get you to vote for a person, but an issue. They (indeed, we, since I was one of those volunteers) successfully persuaded in this difficult landscape.

If you happen to see such courage, and it impresses you, share your impression with your neighbors. Your persuasion is courageous. Courage persuades.

But more than the door knock and pitch, the effort for direct voter contact, watch what the people you have elected do with your imprimatur.  Do they work? Do they work for you? Do they demonstrate courage in their elected position?

For that is where we let the cynicism bloom. We voters have this concept that the comfortable seek comfort, like we do. Courage is not common.

But this republic expects, indeed demands courage for representation to truly work. Courage is uncomfortable. Presenting a profile in a no man’s land could mean death. But it could inspire those who see the outline. Don’t be afraid to stand up.

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Half Baked

courtesy NYSUT

I have a good friend that teaches in an Idaho K12 school. We’ve had some warm days this last week as school started. Our house, a 1950’s model with no AC got up to 85 degrees a couple afternoons. I knew his school was of similar vintage, so I inquired about the classroom temperature.

He shook his head. “The day starts at about 80, but we’re above 90 by the afternoon.”

“No way.”

“We can’t open the windows at night, we’re on the ground floor and it wouldn’t be secure. And the classroom is on the southwest corner of the building. The whole west wall is windows. Even with the shades it just bakes.”

Our governor and legislature are congratulating themselves on sending more money to schools with this special session. Brad never ceases to mention how he has devoted more funding to schools.

But what about the buildings?

The Idaho legislature was found to be violating its Constitutional duty to fund school facilities in 2005. Since then, they have found a way to fund charter school facilities, albeit meagerly.

Look across the Idaho K12 facilities landscape. You will see new schools; you will see old schools. You might see condemned schools. The age old “good enough for my grandpa” method to fund schools was local school district bond elections. The local community would see the need, agree to raise their property taxes so they could pay off the bond that would fund new construction. Or they could run a levy to fix up the rusty boiler.

But property taxes aren’t popular, and the legislature has kept the bar high for bond passage. A district needs 66 and 2/3rds of voters to agree to shoulder the debt.

Read the tally of recent failures. Here’s a tearjerker: Vallivue District got 66% support but failed by a few votes.

It’s time our legislative leaders quit playing social warrior games chasing books out of libraries and beating the CRT drum and got down to brass tacks. Please, move our state into the 21st century about funding school facilities.

Charter schools are public schools. They aren’t burdened with the borrowing requirement of school districts. They get money straight from our state coffers (income and sales tax revenue) to fund their buildings. Everyone agrees the funding is inadequate. There aren’t any charter school Taj Mahals. But their method of getting funding isn’t capricious, it’s reliable. And it doesn’t rely on the extremely variable regional property tax base.

I must disclose, when the scheme for funding charter school facilities came before the legislature in 2012, I voted against it. Not because I didn’t think it was a clear need. I just thought it was half baked. If we are going to fund one set of school buildings from general fund dollars, why not all?

This lousy solution has emphasized the difference between charter schools without a taxing district, and district schools. But it’s kept both struggling.

I know the Idaho Freedom Foundation thinks government should not be in the business of education. Maybe they will organize an initiative to remove Article IX, Section 1 from the Idaho Constitution:

The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it shall be the duty of the legislature of Idaho, to establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools.

But I doubt they have the time and energy for such an arduous task.

Instead, maybe the School Boards Association, or the School Administrators Association, or a group of frustrated parents will decide to sue the legislature for not performing their Constitutional duty. Heck, the legislature has funded their lawyers’ budgets.

In the meantime, another heat wave and our students might get fully baked.

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War

Susie ducked behind the faux marble column on the main floor of the Idaho Capitol as the projectiles whizzed past. It seemed like solid cover as she noticed the paint balls splattering the near floor and walls.

“Paint balls?” she exclaimed.

“Yeah,” the other woman affirmed. “They want to ruin our dresses.”

Susie looked at the other cowering figure. A young woman in a nice dark dress and heels was pressed against the column.

“Why are they shooting at us?”

“It’s war,” the young woman shrugged.

Susie’s mind raced. “But I’m just here to testify about the education bill!”

The other young woman shrugged. “Yeah, and I’m just here to testify about immunizations. We’re at war, don’t you get it?”

Susie took a deep breath and wondered about heading on across the rotunda to the committee room. Paint balls don’t kill. She said so to her fellow cowering witness.

“They could have guns. And real bullets.”

Susie stared at her with her mouth a bit agape. “No!”

The other woman cited the words of the new Idaho Republican state chairman. “She said they would be ready with guns loaded and ready to defend…”

Susie had read the article but had dismissed the threat. “She was talking about shooting Democrats! I’m not a Democrat!”

The other young woman looked down at the red splattered shiny marble floor. “You’re as good as one if you plan to testify against their bills.” She took a deep beath. “I’m no Democrat either but I just think immunizations make good sense. They will soon be burning crosses in my front lawn and doxing my family on Facebook.”

Susie appreciated the pause in splatters and considered their shared predicament and the wisdom of this fellow victim.  “So just who is shooting at us?”

“Hard to say, I haven’t really gotten a good look.”

Susie glanced at her watch. “The committee is supposed to start soon.” She fretted. “Where is Security when you need them?”

“I’m pretty sure I saw them clustered around the Governor’s door on second floor when I came in.” They shared an eye roll.

The pause in splatters lengthened. “I’ll bet they’ve moved on to the JFAC hearing. The librarians’ budget is up today.”

Susie groaned. “My sister is a public health nurse. She warned me this could be tough, offering public testimony. She’s gotten harassed in the grocery store. Her boss quit because of the threats. And she’s thinking about it.”

The other woman softly shook her head and looked down at the marble floor. “They’re winning the war and not even killing any of us yet. They just threaten, intimidate, and bully. I think it’s time to stand up.” She looked around the three-foot column, scanning for snipers.

Susie looked at the neatly printed testimony she had folded in her hands. “I thought this was how we should stand up. I resolved to speak truth to power about the policies they wanted to enforce on us teachers, on schools, on students, on learning.”

Her anonymous compatriot stood quietly in the open scanning. “I think it’s clear.” She reached over and put a firm hand on Susie’s shoulder. “Let’s go do what we think is right.”

Susie smiled at her courage and felt buoyed. She stepped around the column and slipped on the paint splatters on the marble floor. She got some red on her black high heels. But she didn’t fall.

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Exodus

The beginning of the letter from the Idaho Coalition for Safe Reproductive Healthcare

The Washington Post reported last week that some hardline antiabortion states are finding difficulties recruiting Ob/Gyn doctors. I doubt Idaho’s rabid posture will affect our already low ranking for physicians per capita. We trail the country in this one. There are just so many reasons for doctors not to come here.

Instead of a welcome mat, the Idaho Legislature voted last year to enact a ball and chain incentive. If you get your medical education from the Idaho supported WWAMI program, you will now owe Idaho four years of professional service. So, either you find a place somewhere within our borders to pay back, or you will owe the State Treasurer the cost of what the state paid for your medical education. That indenture might move us above Mississippi in the national rankings, despite the abortion issue.

There are probably only half a dozen medical providers in the state who provide abortion services. The number of abortions in Idaho has been decreasing for years now. These providers will go elsewhere.

But there are probably a dozen or more who care for high-risk pregnancies. This is a very vital service for Idaho with our high birth rate.

These specialist doctors will need to have a lawyer on staff to figure out just what the Idaho statutes allow for treatment. Maybe the new Attorney General can staff a position to provide this sort of advice. If a woman’s water breaks at 18 weeks, can we induce the delivery, or does she need to be septic, near death? If the fetus has a nonviable malformation can labor be induced? These questions come up commonly in the care of complicated pregnancies.

All these nuances, and so little clear direction from the Idaho Legislature. It turns out some states are trying to help doctors figure this out. Louisiana has a laundry list of reasons a pregnancy would be “medically futile”. Idaho has no such mercy in our abortion ban.

I delivered babies as a Family Doc here in Idaho. I’m not a Perinatal Specialist, though I trained with some good ones in my residency. I knew right away that I would be referring most complicated pregnancies to such specialists, though I did care for a few of these women in their and my home town. I expect there will be a few more of these women sent out of town, maybe out of state, on to the specialists for such care after August 26th.

It has always made sense to me that the people closest to these brutal decisions should have the most say. But the Idaho Legislature thinks otherwise. We’ll soon find out what the Idaho Supreme Court thinks. And a Federal Judge will get to weigh in too.

I am sorry my profession, medical doctors, have not made their opinion known on this. The Idaho Medical Association is supposed to speak for its members, and they claim about 80+% of Idaho doctors as dues paying members. I’m sorry, mine have lapsed.

It’s probably because we doctors have strongly mixed feelings. Many of my colleagues strongly oppose any abortion. And some might be supportive of Idaho’s draconian laws. But we have avoided this painful discussion amongst ourselves. We do not welcome confrontation in this business of medicine.

I have always considered abortion, of any kind, to be best considered between the patient and their family, the father if he is involved, and the medical counselor. But our representatives in the Idaho Legislature and the laws they have passed now say otherwise.

Idaho will not lose a bunch of doctors because of this. But some highly skilled Perinatal specialists might not want the legal hassles our laws have enacted. They may choose a different place to practice. We, our state, and our pregnant neighbors with complicated situations will suffer. Maybe that’s what you want for them. I wish it were different.

Post Script:

After I wrote this, a news article came out about a coalition of Idaho doctors asking for some legislative relief. Good for them. Maybe a legislator or two will listen. This important personal issue deserves nuanced consideration, not just edicts.

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Ab

Gordian Knot

We were taught in medical school to take an obstetric history from our pregnant patients or ones considering pregnancy. We were taught to ask of prior pregnancies and their outcomes. If there were miscarriages, they were called “spontaneous abortions”. That would be shortened to “Sab” in the medical shorthand we learned back when doctors completed the medical record with pens and paper. If the pregnancy ended in an “elective termination” it was shortened to “EAb”. We also recorded the live births, the number of living children, and the methods of birth, the size of the babies and the natures of the labors. All these details are helpful in caring for the pregnancy.

In my first year in the legislature, Idaho passed an antiabortion bill. Many more followed. They too got shorthand descriptions. There was the “Fetal Pain” bill, the “Ultrasound” bill and on and on.

We now have many of these bills in Idaho Statute. We have a “Trigger Bill”, and we have the “Texas Bill”. I could try to explain each of these to you, but you would very soon get lost in their details and their definitions. You see, many of them conflict in what they say.

For instance, the “Fetal Pain” bill, now statute, defines the term of gestation of a pregnancy from conception. It is standard medical practice to define the age of gestation from the first day of the last menstrual period. That’s a difference of about two weeks, most of the time.

I knew the Idaho Legislature passed a “Trigger Bill” in 2020 that made most abortions illegal soon as Roe Vs Wade was overturned. I also knew the legislature passed the “Texas Bill” this session. I wondered if they conflicted in their definitions. I tried to find it in Idaho Statutes, the online website this June after Roe vs Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court. It was not in the online statutes.

I called the Legislative Services Office and was told the statutes had not been updated. They would be July 1st, when most bills are enacted, the new fiscal year for the State.

“But it had an Emergency Clause”, I pointed out. I could read the bill on the website, but it had not been incorporated into the online statutes. The law was written to say it would take effect when the Governor signed it. Governor Little signed it in March. So, a doctor, at this moment in Idaho, would not know what is illegal or permitted for a pregnant woman considering her pregnancy. And we are expected to counsel our patients?

I know what the Idaho legislature would tell her. Maybe they should set up a clinic. They sure don’t update their website.

It is a weird, twisted, and confusing landscape we are in right now as states try to sort out just how they feel about this deeply personal, but important issue. Look at the Deep Red Kansas vote on a Constitutional Initiative to remove the “Right to an Abortion”. And then look at the Idaho Republican Party’s refusal to consider the life of the mother when abortion is taken off the table.

We were taught, as young medical students, to ask these probing questions so we could provide better care. We were taught that we would receive the most honest answers if we could ask these questions without judgement. I hope it is not news to you that patients don’t always tell their doctors, even themselves, the truth.

The judgement of Idaho Republicans is pretty clear. The life of the embryo, no matter the gestation, is more important than the life of the woman growing that baby.

The judgement of the Idaho Legislature is less clear. They have been in a frenzy to beat their chest about “outlawing” abortion for so long they have lost sight of the complicated nuances of bringing a new life into this world.

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Socialism

I guess there’s little the fractured Idaho Republican Party can agree on, except maybe that both factions embrace conservative values and oppose socialism. Let’s see about that.

Can we define socialism? There’s probably no agreement on that either, even in the general public. The internet tells me it’s a government or economic system where the means of production are owned or regulated by the government.

This is happening right now in deep Red Idaho. I’ll bet we can, most of us, agree it’s a good thing. We’ll see.

In the last couple years, bitcoin miners got their eye on Idaho. Bitcoin is a digital currency. People trade bitcoins and their value is determined by that marketplace. But mining bitcoins, finding them in the digital domain is a very computer and energy expensive process. If they have a high value, the costs of the mining are worth it. Sounds like pure capitalism, doesn’t it?

Since the computers needed to find bitcoins can be mobile, and the electricity needed to run the computer farms varies in its cost, miners look around for the cheapest rates. The electricity needed isn’t small. The bitcoin mining and transaction verification computing as a whole burned more electricity last winter than many European countries.

Idaho has some of the lowest electricity rates in the US. Thanks to the highly regulated Snake River Dam complex, Idaho Power offers cheap rates to us consumers, including Monsanto and Simplot.

Idaho Power knew the miners would be coming and they watched what happened in other markets. Miners have set up shop in abandoned aluminum factories where the big wires were already in place. Then, when they found a cheaper rate in the next state, they loaded their computers into a small U-Haul and moved down the road. Sometimes they didn’t pay their disconnect fee. Some didn’t even pay their bills at all, declaring bankruptcy.

Can you see how such behavior might dim your lights or shut off your air conditioner?

So, Idaho Power asked the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to establish a different rate structure and regulations for these players. The PUC took their request under consideration and asked for public input. The bitcoin miners griped. The PUC granted Idaho Power’s request.

I’m going to argue that this is socialism working you, me, and everybody. Don’t think I have any illusions about Idaho Power being a socialist entity. It’s not. Shareholders own the company, and they are the boss. But they recognize the value in the stability of their marketplace, the price of their product.

The socialism occurs because Idaho Power’s actions are regulated by a government entity, the PUC. Our governors appoint the three PUC commissioners, and they rule on these decisions. Now you may consider this “socialism light”, but I would still argue it is a regulatory process that serves the general public good.

There weren’t regulations when miners flocked to Idaho in the 1800’s looking for gold. The dredged rivers and streams, the hydraulic eroded hills, the displaced tribes are a testament to that. Ghost towns are not just history. Idaho has been a boom-and-bust state for a long time. It’s time we moved into the 21st century.

Maybe you want to go back to those good old days. Maybe you believe the digital bitcoins are just as real as the flecks of gold in the sluice box. Maybe you think the disruption to our power supply would be worth a small lower cost for your digital currency.

I don’t.

I value the stability, the predictability of my power bill and the juice in the wires. And I’m willing to tolerate a bit of socialism to make that happen. I don’t think it’s evil. Indeed, such structures “promote the general welfare” as our Constitutional framers allowed. And they couldn’t have envisioned a computer looking for an imaginary coin. But they could imagine “domestic tranquility”. Do we share that value?

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Politics as War

Photo by Steve Kirch, KMTV

I remember Senator Bart Davis’ comment to the Idaho Senate, but more I remember my naive reaction to it. I can’t remember the context or his exact words, but it was something like “Politics is war, without the bombs and brutality. Politics is done so we don’t have to have war or kill each other.” I apologize for misquoting.

My reaction was one of revulsion, but I respected the man, so I did some pondering and research. It turns out the sentiment was not unique to him. From the 19th century Prussian General Clausewitz to the 20th century Frenchman Foucault, other statesman and philosophers have shared the view.

So, with this blending of images and actions (war as politics, or politics as war) in mind, how are we to look at the state of war (politics) in Idaho right now after the Idaho State Republican Party convention has concluded?

Didn’t you notice? It was last weekend. I would encourage you to read up on the news.

But ignorance of this convention might explain some things. Idaho, indeed, our country tends to limit our awareness of politics. Just like the folks in Ukraine go about their business of growing crops or feeding their families as Russian missiles rain down on their kindergartens, all people tend to focus on their immediate needs. Like what to watch on Netflix tonight.

May I remind you, when Governor Otter was in the Capitol, Idahoans were ten times more likely to Google the aquatic mammal than Butch. We don’t always have a lot of political awareness when there’s wood to get and fish to catch.

So, should we consider the convention a cabal of the generals waging a war for the hearts and minds of Idahoans?  Or was it a freak show echo chamber where the crazies could scream their paranoid fantasies and not expect much blow back?

Unfortunately, I believe the answer is both of the above.

I have evidence for my conclusion. For a long time, the Idaho Republican Party has had in their platform a call to return to the gold and silver standard, despite the economic inanity of such a policy. It hasn’t hurt their numbers in the polls a bit. Add in their call to repeal the direct election of US Senators, the 17th Amendment to the US Constitution. This year they added a call to repeal the 16th Amendment, which authorized Congress’ ability to tax income. Now THAT would make for smaller government.

Please also note Idaho Republicans call for making laws to codify abortion as capital murder, with no exceptions for the mother’s health. So, a woman who will die from an ectopic pregnancy could not get care in this state. And mothers with nonviable fetuses must carry them full term. Remember, there is no statute of limitations on capital crimes, so such a classification would make accessories of women who had abortions 40 years ago. Really? This is how you want to win this war?

But just like Russians can bomb apartments and schools in one town of Ukraine, but the next town over maintains their street markets for shoppers and vendors, sometimes we don’t notice the real atrocities, or even the proposed ones.

Party politics can be very powerful, darn them. Just remember 1930’s Germany.

I think this blending of politics and war was not lost on the newly elected Chairman of the Idaho Republican. Dorothy Moon, in her acceptance speech said, “Democrats are coming for us full force, our barriers are up, our guns are loaded and ready to keep this state free.”

Her slate of radical Republicans won all the seats in the party, and she got elected to man the helm. Most of the radical planks got added to the platform. Now, if Idahoans are paying attention, the battle for their hearts and minds begins.

Or not. Ukrainians denied Russians were on their borders until the bombs began to rain down.

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Gun Control

If you have the time, and you don’t mind the profanity, this is really good.

I got a call from a friend a few months back asking for a recommendation for a counsellor in our community. Their child was depressed. Suicidal thoughts were mentioned.

I offered a name and my concern. I asked about guns. They had been secured.

Teen suicide in Idaho is a big deal in my opinion. Numbers support my impression. Idaho’s rate of teen suicide is double the national rate. We always, tragically, rank in the top ten for teen suicide.

And guns are a common method.

The spate of mass shootings has spurred many calls for gun regulations. But I have said before and I’ll say again, follow the numbers. If you just got shot and killed in Idaho, it is 13 times more likely that you just shot and killed yourself than you were a victim of someone else.

Making regulations about high-capacity magazines might address some of the mass shootings.  But it just takes one bullet to kill your suicidal loved one.

Guns are dangerous, lethal, no doubt. But if your justification for the guns in your home are self-protection, you are not following the numbers. I’ll leave it up to you how you figure out home defense and secure firearms. Readily accessible firearms and volatile, impetuous teens are a deadly combination.

There are more numbers. A recent study showed the risk for teen suicide was four times more likely in a home with guns, than in a home without. They didn’t drill down to the secure storage practices.

When I see teenagers for their sports physicals I ask them about their moods, if they have ever been depressed. Usually, a parent is in the room. It’s worthwhile to discuss. Silence about a common occurrence does not make it less common.

If a family brings a teen to me and the worry is about depression, I investigate. Part of that questioning may address whether there are guns in the home and how they are stored.

It wasn’t long ago an Idaho legislator tried to make such questions illegal. Her bill died with little support. But such a law was passed in Florida. Maybe that’s where she got the idea. It was struck down by a Federal judge as a First Amendment, free speech infringement.

Why do elected officials seem to think they should be passing laws about how I talk with patients? I think I do OK without their advice.

I guess there was some fear that the medical record could be used to “take away our guns”. Believe me, the medical record is used mainly for billing purposes and to defend the practitioner in a lawsuit.

I hope I have convinced you that sometimes guns need to not be accessible. For everyone’s sake.

I can’t think of a law or regulation that would make this commonsense recommendation more valid. I hate it when our elected officials pass laws that are unenforceable, but just make a statement. Such grandstanding makes us cynical about the representative process.

So, I have no proposal to plop before you. I just have a plea.

Know your children.

Listen to their moods, watch their function.

Sometimes you will need to use your judgement.

A parent’s healthy judgement may save a life. So, keep your judgment healthy and accessible. And don’t be afraid to use it to defend the lives of your loved ones.

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Seeds

I got my height in 8th grade. I was tall then, but the late bloomers towered over me by my sophomore year. Why in the hell did I move from ground-based sports to one that expected me to be tall? It was the girls.

Girls played volleyball. So, I decided to pick it up. It’s a skill game. But I was athletic, and the skills came quickly. I watched the girls’ skills and learned from them. They welcomed my effort.

The men’s game has an 8-foot net separating the teams. I could stuff a volleyball on a 10-foot basketball rim, so I thought I would be good. But a six-foot six blocker only needed to jump a little to be an obstacle. I needed to up my game.

I remember practicing the steps, the approach, then the explosion off the ground. If I could just get a couple inches higher. Adrenaline helped. I found I could gauge the ball, start my approach, then at the moment needed to lift, if I focused my hatred on a spot on the ground, I seemed to get a little higher.

I didn’t hate my opponent. Their skills made me a better player.

But I hated the gravity, the earth, that held me down.

I could really jump back in the day. But I was a foolish young man.

Those years of jumping have worn out my knees. I will get one replaced in a couple weeks. It’s the worst; they both need it. So, I will now reap from those seeds of hatred I sowed so long ago. We need to be careful about the seeds we sow.

The smile and wave to our grumpy neighbor is a seed. The time taken to understand a decision that will affect us is a seed. Blind partisan loyalty is a weed in full bloom. The seed was the hatred of the other we planted and watered.

I find myself wondering about our US Senate. Having served in a legislative senate, I know it is no comparison. Especially here in Idaho when both representatives and senators run for election every two years.

US Senators get six-year terms. The 1789 Constitution had them selected by their state legislatures. This was a nod to the Articles of Confederation, which tried to make states sovereign. But it became clear in the late 19th century that a few well-placed bribes in a new state could buy a Senate seat. The inability of state legislatures to fulfill their obligation sealed the deal when a few states couldn’t agree on their choice. Some Senate seats were unoccupied for years.

 The 17th Amendment changed the selection of Senators to a statewide popular vote in the early 20th century.

Our two Idaho Senators have served for 23 and 13 years. I’m sure they know the DC ropes. But I question their loyalty to our republic. They both have caved to politics, partisan hatred, when the ideals of our founders should have been in their hearts.

I’m sure they have discussions across the aisle to move significant issues. I’m sure they listen to other Senators.

But both listened to testimony about the actions of former President Trump and found no fault.

His first action was to elicit help from a foreign power for his own political domestic benefit. Trump withheld military support for Ukraine that had been approved by Congress to get them to do his dirty work.

His second action was to deny the truth of an election and, with his words and violence of his colleagues, try to subvert our Constitutional process.

These actions of our former President are poisonous seeds. Our Idaho Senators have nurtured their growth. And we have elected them, time and again.

I can’t believe our Idaho legislature would hold them any more accountable than we, the voters have. The harvest is nigh.

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Words

photo: ronstik alamy

The way the law is written in our state I am guilty of criminal abortion.

I await the handcuffs.

First, we need to define abortion.

The definition of abortion in Idaho statute says “the use of any means to intentionally terminate the clinically diagnosable pregnancy of a woman with knowledge that the termination by those means will, with reasonable likelihood, cause the death of the unborn child…” (18-604.1)

I know people have strong feelings about abortion, (killing babies) and these words are meant to address this. But laws are made of words. Our intentions are not ink on paper.

 I treated a young woman early in my career who had successfully hidden her pregnancy until very late. It was unplanned, she was unmarried and ashamed. She had worn an overcoat into the summer.

When I examined her the size of her uterus was inconsistent with her due date, so I recommended an ultrasound. The scan revealed she was carrying a 38-week fetus with anencephaly.

Sometimes in the development of the fetus the nervous system does not do what it should. If the folds required to close off the skull don’t happen, the brain does not develop. My patient had a baby without a brain that had grown to full term size inside her. She had nurtured this fetus with her body, in shame, hiding it, but not “terminating it”. Now I needed to treat her, my patient.

Because of the conditions, I recommended she deliver, that is, “terminate her pregnancy”. Conditions were ripe. I ruptured her membranes and four hours later, her baby was delivered.

I knew, and I told my patient, the mother, the baby would not live. Some anencephalic babies do survive for a while. This baby never took a breath.

So, in this specific case, I used a “means” (rupturing the membranes) “to intentionally terminate…a pregnancy that would cause the death of an unborn child.” I am guilty of criminal abortion by Idaho statutes.

I could tell you of another patient I induced at 32 weeks gestation when we discovered her fetus to be anencephalic. This time I used drugs to get her uterus contracting. She had a family. She was Catholic. It was a decision she made with open eyes and open heart.

Many would oppose this decision. Some would even consider this criminal. Idaho does, according to the laws our elected representatives have written. I want you to consider this.

That baby did not take a breath either. But I accepted her decision and ordered the drugs and used “means” to cause the death of the unborn child. It was surviving inside her. But she wanted the pregnancy to come to an end. She did not want to keep sustaining this fetus.

 I am guilty of criminal abortion.

Some want to have this moral and practical decision of terminating a pregnancy bend on the esoteric question of when “life” begins. I’m sorry, but we all must accept that all pregnancies will end. And some fetuses will not live.  If the action of a caregiver leads to the end of a life, we all should mourn, as both these mothers and families did. But do you, someone not involved in this painful process have any right to tell the protagonists how they should choose?

I guess most Idahoans think that. The Idaho legislature has done everything they can to make abortion illegal.

I think the intent of these proclamations really is proper. All children should be nurtured, wanted, loved. We should all be doing all we can to make that ideal a reality. So, if that is our intent, do our words, do our actions reflect that?

I await your handcuffs.

In the meantime, I will keep treating my patients. We all need care.

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