Despite ultrasound theater and overwhelming senate support, a mandatory ultrasound bill that would have forced women seeking abortion to pay out-of-pocket for an additional and unnecessary medical expense, while also trying to trick them into visiting crisis pregnancy centers, may not even make it to the House floor for a vote.
The bill became a political hand-grenade after bill sponsor Sen. Chuck Winder admitted that his sole reason for introducing it was to stop women from having abortions by whatever means necessary. Criticism of Winder began to escalate as he used his closing remarks during the senate vote to claim women with “rape issues” might lie to get abortions.
Facing national outrage, Winder then explained that he was merely trying to advocate for a “rape test” to ensure a woman who claimed she was rape was sure she was raped, and wasn’t “accidentally terminating” a pregnancy resulting from consensual sex instead.
The bill debate then turned into a literal circus as one anti-choice advocate began using the capitol to do “ultrasound demos,” providing “baby testimony” and purporting to show just how “un-intrusive” the abdominal version of the procedure it.
According to Betsy Russell at the Spokesman Review, Republican legislators then ended up in a drawn-out, closed-door caucus, while sources in the capitol began announcing that the hearing, which was planned for tomorrow, was canceled.
“House Assistant Minority Leader Elfreda Higgins, D-Garden City, said 10 minutes ago, House State Affairs Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, came to her office and told her that tomorrow morning’s hearing on the pre-abortion ultrasound bill, SB 1387, has been canceled and the committee won’t hear the bill – which would mean it’s dead,” Russell reported.
Republicans are saying there is no firm decision on whether or not the bill will be heard. But the end of the legislative session is looming and the agenda is still full. Advocates fighting the legislation say that if the hearing isn’t held by Friday, it is highly unlikely the bill has time to come to the floor for a vote.
Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest Legislative Director Hannah Brass is cautiously optimistic.
“While we welcome the news, the session is not yet over and we will continue to make sure that legislators know that the ultrasound mandate does nothing for women’s health and is not right for Idaho. Our hope is that the Idaho Legislature has finally realized that they have no place in the exam room and that these decisions should be based on medicine, not politics.”
“Women in Idaho are watching to make sure lawmakers focus on jobs and education, not legislating women’s health care.”
The legislature is expected to adjourn on Wednesday, March 28th.