Sen. Dan Foreman speaks in support of abortion reversal bill on Senate floor. It takes no sides he says, “but is intended to help educate and inform...” pic.twitter.com/2Ck03mivrP— scott logan (@ScottLoganKBOI) February 20, 2018
Idaho Republican Sen. Dan Foreman is being called a bully online for giving college students who traveled miles to discuss a birth control bill a hard time.
The Monday exchange, which was captured on camera, depicts an out-of-control Foreman and a dozen students from the University of Idaho in Boise. In the video, the senator is seen pointing at students, saying that "abortion is murder."
The group of students had scheduled a meeting with Foreman at 9 a.m., but the senator simply didn’t show up, canceling at the last minute.
Before moving on to meeting with other lawmakers, the group left a note and condoms at the Republican’s office. In the note, the students said that they had driven seven hours for a scheduled meeting, and that they were disappointed that the senator was “not doing [his] job.”
Later, students saw Foreman in the hallway, prompting the exchange caught on camera.
This is how Senator Dan Foreman, Idaho District 5, treats his constituents. We drove 7 hours to meet with him and he threatened to call the police if we entered his office. SPREAD THIS! pic.twitter.com/SfDzdciqg1— nicky (@nicky_skinz) February 19, 2018
Here is the sign that made him so mad! pic.twitter.com/AxzlQF8OOI— nicky (@nicky_skinz) February 19, 2018
“I’m a Roman Catholic and a conservative Republican. I think what you guys are doing stinks,” the senator said.
He then threatened the students, saying that he would get law enforcement involved if they tried visiting his office again.
Students were clearly unhappy.
Our activists from Moscow spent hours preparing and made the long trek through the snow to meet with their elected officials. This is the treatment they received. https://t.co/Eh53eK8V7q— Mistie Tolman (@mistietolman) February 19, 2018
@SenDanTheMan Please explain why you cancelled a standing appointment to discuss comprehensive sex education and birth control with your constituents? I thought Health and Welfare was one of your committees? #StandWithPP— Kim Scheffelmaier (@krschef117) February 19, 2018
We set up an appointment to discuss comprehensive sexual education in Idaho schools and 12 months of birth control, nothing to do with abortion and this was his reaction.— Arely Ayala (@ArelyAy12) February 19, 2018
You refused to meet with us twice even when we had a 9:00am appointment time. We waited and you blatantly said you refused to meet with us because we were from Planned Parenthood. Lobbying is not harassment and your views shouldn’t overshadow separation of church and state.— Kim Scheffelmaier (@krschef117) February 19, 2018
After the incident, Paul Dillon, the public affairs director of Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho, said that the senator’s reaction was uncalled for.
“Even if you disagree with what we have to say,” Dillon explained, “there’s no excuse for that kind behavior. He was being a bully.”
What was particularly upsetting is that, according to the students, they weren’t even there to discuss abortion. Instead, they were just there to lobby lawmakers to support bills that would give women the ability to receive up to 12-month supplies of prescribed birth control and another that would update the state’s sex education law.
In a tweet published by an account that is apparently associated with Foreman, the senator said that “saving the lives of my constituents” was his “priority.” The Twitter account also suggested that students head out to Democratic Sen. Maryanne Jordan’s office to talk about “killing babies.”
Jordan is from Boise.
"Go talk about killing babies with Maryann Jordan."— Melissa Davlin (@davlinnews) February 20, 2018
Sen. Foreman and Sen. Jordan serve on Senate Health and Welfare together, and sit right next to each other in committee.
I've never seen an attack quite like this in my time covering the #idleg. https://t.co/DyULrQJOZw
Later, The Washington Post reported, the Twitter account in question issued a statement saying that the senator did not run the account.
After the inflammatory tweet, Jordan filed an ethics complaint against Foreman. The account was then deactivated, only to be activated again to issue the statement apologizing for the initial tweet before being deactivated once more.
Regardless of how you feel about abortion or birth control legislation, holding a balanced and polite debate about ideas is the only way either side can achieve anything. The moment one of the parties becomes agitated and out of control, the debate turns into a sideshow, and ideas worth discussing are never even brought to light.
It’s unfortunate that this exchange turned into a public fight, and the senator should be ashamed for it.