Right to Life forces quickly targeted Democratic Gov. Cecil Andrus for defeat in his bid for an unprecedented fourth term, saying he betrayed his anti-abortion philosophy by vetoing what would have been the nation's most restrictive state abortion law.
"This veto will galvanize the pro-life majority in Idaho and nationwide," said National Right to Life President John Willke, maintaining Andrus has forfeited any right to claim an anti-abortion stand.Idaho Right to Life's Kerry Uhlenkott promised, "We will be heard at the polls. This has been a long, hard fight, and it is by no means over."
But Andrus, while recognizing there would be a political price, said he acted in the best interests of his state. He denied being influenced by political considerations and threats of economic retaliation from outsiders.
Instead, the governor said, he rejected the bill that legal experts said had no chance of being upheld in court because he believed it would deny justified abortions in rape and incest cases.
While incurring the wrath of pro-life activists, Andrus did win over pro-choice forces who pledged to stand behind him throughout the campaign despite his personal philosophy that abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape, incest and to save a woman's life.
Even one of the main architects of the bill banning abortion as a method of birth control, Republican Rep. Gary Montgomery of Boise, conceded the legislation "could have been improved and strengthened," and he and other pro-life forces promised to refine the proposition and reintroduce it in 1991.
Idaho was the fifth state this year to reject a form of the national model pro-life forces want to use to test the U.S. Supreme Court's commitment to legalized abortion.
"It only takes one piece of anti-choice legislation to be passed in one state somewhere in this country to threaten all women's rights," said Kate Michelman, president of the National Abortion Rights Action League.