When Idaho Senator Chuck Winder proposed a bill that would force every woman to undergo a mandatory ultrasound prior to an abortion, he admitted two things: he had no idea exactly what sort of ultrasound he was mandating, and he had no idea how women would pay for them.
Neither issue has been cleared up in the final bill, but that hasn’t stopped it from passing through committee on a 7-2 vote, or being sent to the senate where it is expected to be voted on as early as Monday, March 19th.
Citizens rallied against the passage of the bill as it was heard in the judiciary committee. One woman brought a petition signed by 4000 voters demanding that the law not pass.
Even the judiciary committee itself was divided. In testimony against the bill, expert witnesses underscored the problem with the government mandating an unnecessary medical procedure, pointed out that the cost of the unnecessary procedure would prove prohibitive to many women, and questioned the constitutionality of the bill. Experts also criticized the fact that in order to obtain a “free” ultrasound a woman would have to visit a crisis pregnancy center, the raison d’etre of which is to do anything–including lying to women–to talk them out of an abortion, but that ultrasounds performed in these centers wouldn’t meet the legal requirement anyway.
Republican Senator Patti Ann Lodge highlighted the double standard of Idaho’s far right politicians who are fighting federal government health mandates while imposing their own, saying she was “concerned about the state mandating a procedure when we are also fighting against procedures that are placed upon us on the federal level.”
But the panel, including Lodge, passed the bill onto the senate, where it was supposed to be heard on Friday but got delayed.
Why the delay? Could it be because even those senators who publicly support the bill, like Lodge, are feeling the pressure of actually passing what is becoming one of the most contentious abortion restrictions facing the nation? Pennsylvania has already put their own vote on hold and a similar bill in Alabama has been dropped.
Whether the senate is getting cold feet due to public feedback, or due to the fact that the bill’s flaws are both copious and unaddressed, either way, it’s obvious that senators are not sold on legislating expensive, unnecessary and physically and emotionally intrusive medical procedure.
Legislators in Alabama and Pennsylvania have killed or tabled forced ultrasound bills because of the public outcry. You can act now to let Idaho legislators that forced ultrasounds will not be tolerated. Below is information you need to tell these legislators what you think via email, Twitter, and Facebook. Tell them #NoForcedUltrasounds.
Sen. Chuck Winder
Sen. Curt McKenzie – Committee Chair
FAX (208) 376-0455