Idaho’s law books have become cluttered in recent years with laws that were placed on the books by preening extremists, more for the purpose of gaining votes than addressing real public problems. I like to call them zombie laws because they just languish there on the law books, serving no legitimate purpose. Rather, the laws are designed to intimidate disfavored groups from engaging in lawful activities.

An example of a zombie law is the “No Public Funds for Abortion Act,” which was attacked by the White House on Sept. 27 as “extreme and backwards.” The law prohibits state colleges and public schools from promoting abortions. There was absolutely no evidence that such activity was going on in the state, but that fact was of little concern to the culture war extremists in our Legislature.

When our universities warned their staff about the law and the stiff penalties awaiting violators, Idaho made nation-wide headlines, but not in a good way. Even though the law is poorly worded and subject to constitutional challenge, it is the law of Idaho until the courts rule otherwise. The law was clearly intended to intimidate educators from legitimate discussion of reproductive issues in the education setting and it appears to have had that very effect.

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