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COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) — Anti-abortion advocates in northern Idaho say they are collecting signatures for a ballot initiative that would outlaw abortion in Idaho.
The Coeur d'Alene Press reports that Abolish Abortion Idaho, a grassroots citizen group, wants to change Idaho law to make people who perform or have an abortion face a penalty of first-degree murder. The petition would ban any exceptions for cases of rape, incest or when the mother's health is in danger.
Scott Herndon, an activist with the group, says that supporters want Idaho to ignore federal law that recognizes a constitutional right to an abortion.
"If a woman faces the very real consequences of a first-degree murder penalty, we are confident it will act as a deterrent to abortion," he said.
Herndon added that he was unsure of how many signatures he collected so far as of Friday.
Statewide ballot initiatives must have signatures from 6 percent of the total of those who voted in the last presidential election from 18 out of Idaho's 35 legislative districts. That means Abolish Abortion Idaho must have at least 56,000 verified signatures to make it on the 2018 ballot.
The ballot would need a simple majority to pass if it makes it on the ballot.
Chuck Wilkes Jr., lead pastor at True North, a Church of the Nazarene in Hayden, said he had concerns over the legal challenges the proposal faces.
"The use of criminal sanctions simply compounds a bad situation," he wrote in an email to The Press, adding his comments are his own and not a reflection of his pastoral position. "The use of first-degree murder charges is not appropriate for these situations.
Information from: Coeur d'Alene Press, http://www.cdapress.com
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