BOISE • Before a woman receives an abortion in Idaho, she receives three informational pamphlets, a description of available pregnancy and adoption services, and an offer of an ultrasound.
Soon, that ultrasound may be required.
Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, is sponsoring legislation that, if passed, would require doctors to give an ultrasound to women before performing an abortion. The bill would expand a law that requires physicians to offer an ultrasound, but doesn't mandate that they perform the ultrasound before the abortion.
As the bill is written, women could still turn down the offer to see the ultrasound image, Winder said. Both the physician and the woman would have to acknowledge that the ultrasound was performed.
The law wouldn't affect a woman's right to choose, Winder said. Rather, it would help the woman make an informed decision on whether to follow through with the abortion, as well as help the physician identify possible complications.
"They can identify the age of the fetus, the baby, to also look at potential medical related issues that may relate to either the woman or the development of that child," Winder said.
The bill is modeled after similar laws in seven other states, Winder said. Currently, Virginia is considering similar legislation.
Jason Herring of Right to Life Idaho said his organization supports the legislation, saying that ultrasounds often persuade women not to go through with abortions.
"She can't be forced to do that against her will," Herring said. "If she chooses to, that gives her a window into her womb."
Hannah Brass, legislative director for Planned Parenthood, said she hadn't seen the specific bills, but said the organization is concerned that the law would require unnecessary medical procedures. Early-term pregnancies, for example, may require an invasive transvaginal ultrasound.
"There's no reason to do that," Brass said. "It's just a violation of that woman's privacy and her body to require that."
Brass also said the law shows a distrust of women to make decisions for themselves.
Winder said he's not sure when the legislation will be introduced, but expects it will be ready in the next couple of weeks.