Senator Bob Nonini thinks threatening women with the death penalty will reduce abortions
Ah, Idaho, my home state, a place where the mountains are gloriously snowcapped, the rivers run wild and clean, and politicians routinely make national headlines for saying some of the most outlandish shit you can even imagine. This time around, it’s three-term state Senator Bob Nonini, deep in a campaign for Lieutenant Governor, who just decided to make public his belief that women who seek abortions should face the death penalty.
This first happened during a candidate forum on Monday, hosted by the conservative Christian podcast CrossPolitic.
“There should be no abortion and anyone who has an abortion should pay,” Nonini said during the forum. He didn’t outright say “death penalty,” but when moderators pressed him for what he meant by “women should pay,” he nodded his head when they mentioned it.
Nonini later clarified, saying he doesn’t think women would actually be put to death for getting abortions, but he wants the option there just to deter them, because somehow that makes sense.
“Prosecutions have always been focused on the abortionist. There is no way a woman would go to jail let alone face the death penalty,” he said in a statement sent to several news outlets, including the Idaho Statesman. “The statute alone, the threat of prosecution, would dramatically reduce abortion. That is my goal.”
Nonini’s statement continued, “I strongly support the overturning of Roe v. Wade. 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.”
But Nonini’s statement is almost certainly wrong. Global studies that compare abortion rates in countries where abortions are legal versus countries where they aren’t find that similar numbers of women seek them, meaning making abortion illegal doesn’t actually lower rates of abortion. What it does do is make sure than women have access to abortions done by qualified doctors in safe, clean medical facilities, rather than seeking dangerous alternatives because of laws.
Nonini’s message is actually pretty on-brand for deeply red Idaho, where state Senator Dan Foreman recently ran out on a scheduled meeting with college students and then was recorded screaming at them in a hallway that abortion is murder. Foreman even tried introducing a bill in the state last year that would have classified abortion as first-degree murder, both for the women and the doctors performing them. The bill never received a hearing, which may indicate that there’s hope for Idaho.