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House Bill 400 — Preborn children

House Bill 400 — Preborn children

Parrish Miller
January 19, 2024

Bill Description: House Bill 400 would amend numerous sections of Idaho code to replace the term "fetus" with the term "preborn child".

Rating: +1

NOTE: House Bill 400 is similar to House Bill 381, introduced earlier this session. Among the changes made by House Bill 400 is retaining a definition of embryo, which would have been deleted by House Bill 381, and keeping language in code that says an embryo does not become a "preborn child" until "the start of the ninth week of gestation." These changes could serve to undermine the purpose of the original bill, which was presumably to recognize that personhood begins with conception. Under House Bill 400, this recognition of personhood is effectively withheld until the preborn child reaches the ninth week of gestation. 

Does it violate the principle of equal protection under the law? Examples include laws which discriminate or differentiate based on age, gender, or religion, or which apply laws, regulations, rules, or penalties differently based on such characteristics. Conversely, does it restore or protect the principle of equal protection under the law?

House Bill 400 would amend numerous sections of Idaho code to replace dozens of references to a "fetus" and "stillborn fetus" with the terms "preborn child" and "stillborn child." 

No other changes would be made by the bill and the statement of purpose (SOP) provided by its authors suggests that there would be "no fiscal impact to the general fund or local governments."

The purpose of the bill is therefore likely to be more symbolic than substantive, but within that symbolism, we can find an important recognition of fact — the inalienable rights of mankind are not conditioned on having been born. This fact is recognized throughout Idaho code, including some of the sections this bill would amend, such as those that define murder and manslaughter of the unborn. 

Replacing a technical and impersonal medical term with one that recognizes the inherent humanity — and accompanying natural rights — of the unborn is an important step toward more fully protecting the rights of most people, although this bill still fails to recognize personhood during the first 8 weeks of pregnancy. 


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