A newly elected Republican legislator in Idaho has come under fire after comparing women's reproductive rights to milking cows. Elected to his first term in the state's lower house in November 2022, Rep. Jack Nelson said that he has "some definite opinions" about "the women's health thing,” during a meeting with the House Agriculture Committee.
“I’ve milked a few cows, spent most of my time walking behind lines of cows, so if you want some ideas on repro and the women’s health thing, I have some definite opinions,” Nelsen said.
After his comments quickly went viral on social media he issued a statement apologizing Thursday, noting that the comments were “inappropriate.” The apology email also came about seven hours after The Idaho Statesman published an editorial on the incident, calling it “no laughing matter.”
"Not only were his comments offensive and embarrassing, they were odd, given that he was simply introducing himself to the House Agriculture Committee," the Statesman said. "This was how he chose to introduce himself, by comparing women's health care with milking a cow?"
“The women in my life have taught me strength, resilience, integrity, hard work, joy, and love. I absolutely respect women, and the right to choose their own healthcare,” Nelsen said in his apology. “The way I phrased my statement about women and reproductive rights yesterday completely missed the mark. I’m embarrassed, and I offended others in the process. I am deeply sorry. I recognize the mistake and commit to doing better in the future.”
He added, “I have always operated and will continue to operate under the standard that the government does not belong in the doctor’s office.”
The comments follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Idaho's near-total abortion ban, which has exceptions for rape, incest, and saving a pregnant patient's life. Abortion policies in Idaho have been criticized since the fall of Roe v. Wade, as the state was one of few that wished to impose a ban on abortions, passing a bill in July that performing an abortion is a crime unless medically necessary.
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