A Republican state senator from Idaho is facing intense criticism on a national scale after videos were posted to social media that show him shouting about abortion to college students who were at the state capital to advocate for more access to birth control and improved sexual education.
In a hallway at the Idaho state capital building on Monday, state Sen. Dan Foreman—who abruptly canceled his morning meeting with the students ahead of the incident—shook his finger while declaring "abortion is murder" and "stay out of my office," and threatened to involve the state police if they attempted to have another conversation with him.
The students, who are part of Generation Action at the University of Idaho, are calling for the state's legislature to pass a pair of bills (pdf) that would update the state's decades-old sexual education standards, and ensure health insurance plans cover a 12-month supply of contraception, so that women don't experience negative side effects and increased pregnancy risks associated with inconsistent birth control.
About a dozen students had traveled for several hours to meet with multiple state lawmakers, including Foreman, on Monday. They said that while some other elected officials they met with did not agree with their positions, Foreman's colleagues all respectfully listened to their constituents' comments.
"Even if you disagree with what we have to say, there's no excuse for that kind behavior. He was being a bully."
Paul Dillon, the public affairs director for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, filmed the exchange and posted it to his personal Facebook page. In an interview with The Associated Press, Dillon described Foreman as "completely unhinged."
"Even if you disagree with what we have to say, there's no excuse for that kind behavior," Dillon added. "He was being a bully."
Following the incident, an unverified and now-deleted Twitter account allegedly associated with Foreman tweeted that the students should talk to Democratic state Sen. Maryanne Jordan about "killing babies." Although the account was briefly reactivated to claim that it was a parody profile and not controlled by Foreman, Jordan has filed a formal ethics complaint against the GOP lawmaker.
Foreman's behavior generated swift backlash on social media, with some critics pointing to a previous outburst by the state lawmaker last fall:
This is no way for an elected official to treat young people who are doing everything they can to be civically engaged. You can read about the entire incident here: https://t.co/adtk5WkM7V
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) February 20, 2018
Today would be a great day for someone in #ID05 to announce their run against completely unhinged GOP incumbent, Dan Foreman.
This isn't the first time he's lost it.
— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) February 20, 2018