Pre-abortion Ultrasound Bill Advances to Senate

2012-03-15T02:00:00Z 2012-03-15T07:10:28Z Pre-abortion Ultrasound Bill Advances to SenateBy Melissa Davlin - Twin Falls Times-News

BOISE • Do mandatory ultrasounds give abortion-seeking women crucial information needed to make a decision, or violate their privacy and impede their right to seek a legal medical procedure?

That was the heavy question the Senate State Affairs Committee had to consider on Wednesday morning as it considered a bill that would mandate pre-abortion ultrasounds. After two hours of testimony, the committee voted 7-2 on party lines to pass the bill to the Senate floor, sparking vocal protests from people who had shown up to oppose it.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, would require physicians to perform an ultrasound on women seeking an abortion, then record the heartbeat and the gestational age. The law would also establish a list of free ultrasound providers in the state, most of which would be at pregnancy crisis centers.

The law already requires physicians to offer to let women see an ultrasound image, but doesn’t mandate the procedure. Under both the current and proposed laws, women aren’t be forced to see that image.

Emotions ran high as people testified for and against the bill, and both sides claimed they were supporting women. Supporter Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, said the requirement offers all the information a woman needs to make an informed decision, while Dwight Scarbrough of Boise said he was standing up for women like his daughter by opposing the legislation.

Sue Philley of Boise presented a petition with more than 4,000 signatures of Idahoans who opposed the legislation. The proposed law “makes a mockery of the expressed Republican goal of less government,” she said. Ardvell Bajema of Fruitland showed photos — one of a fetus at seven weeks, and a graphic picture of an aborted fetus at 10 weeks.

Monica Hopkins of the American Civil Liberties Union also pointed out that the free ultrasounds at pregnancy crisis centers wouldn’t count under the law, as the legislation specifies the abortion provider must fill out the form.

“Currently, no abortion provider offers free ultrasounds,” Hopkins said. A woman who gets a free ultrasound at a pregnancy crisis center might be surprised when she needs a second one from her physician.

People on both sides of the issue invoked the Holocaust, and comments from testifiers often elicited negative reactions from the audience. Committee chairman Curtis McKenzie, R-Nampa, frequently had to remind people to remain respectful.

During the post-testimony debate, two issues stuck out to the senators: Giving a voice to the unborn, and unnecessary government intrusion into citizens’ medical decisions.

Sen. Patti Ann Lodge, R-Huston, said while she is anti-abortion, she was concerned about rape and incest victims having to undergo the ultrasound against their will.

“And I’m also concerned about the state mandating a procedure when we are also fighting against procedures that are placed upon us on the federal level,” Lodge said.

Sen. Edgar Malepeai, D-Pocatello, said this is a private issue that should stay between physicians and patients. And Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, said the state doesn’t currently mandate any other medical procedures, with the exception of an injection during execution and a blood draw if someone refuses to take a breath alcohol test when pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence.

“In at least two cases, it has to do with someone who has behaved criminally,” Stennett said. There is no other precedent for an invasive procedure, she added.

In the end, Lodge and her fellow Republicans voted to send the bill to the Senate floor, while Malepeai and Stennett voted against the motion.

Copyright 2015 Twin Falls Times-News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(4) Comments

  1. Teacher2Be
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    Teacher2Be - March 17, 2012 3:51 am
    Michelle Stennet has it right - why are we treating women like criminals here? This whole bill is bad, bad, bad.
  2. jdyreson
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    jdyreson - March 17, 2012 12:16 am
    Sue Philley of Boise presented a petition with more than 4,000 signatures of Idahoans who opposed the legislation. The proposed law “makes a mockery of the expressed Republican goal of less government,”

    I couldnt agree more, do these people really feel that stuff like this is really gonna help the people of Idaho better their lives in these times? I have never really believed in change simply for the sake of change but my God how much worse can we end up with? And NO the answer isnt a bunch of hardcore libs like most of the democrats in the house seem to be now either.
    Is it really so much to ask for some decent COMMON SENSE moderates? It sounds like there will be many options this election cycle, do a little research and lets see if we can't institute some change in Idaho this Novemeber.

  3. menotu
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    menotu - March 15, 2012 10:52 am
    The Idaho republicans seem hell-bent on hanging themselves and I for one hope they do. I know there are some moderate less self-serving republicans out there, but they are being being kept out by the radical right and religious fanatics currently in control of the State Legislature. Hopefully the women of Idaho will rise up and say no to the oppression.
  4. Ronchan
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    Ronchan - March 15, 2012 9:31 am
    I appreciate your balanced report on yesterday's Senate committee hearing. Unfortunately, the full Senate will be asked to consider a bad bill. A woman's right to be fully informed of the implications of an abortion is already assured. Some presumably well-intended conservatives and "pro-life" advocates made it seem that women are somehow too stupid to make an abortion choice on their own and must therefore undergo a medically "optional" ultrasound to drag out the process. While much of the debate was on the morality of abortion or the usefulness of ultrasound exams, the committee, except for Senators Stennet and Malepeai, was content to move the bill on to the full senate while overlooking some serious flaws. The bill requires that the doctor performing the abortion also sign off on the ultrasound. Thus, even if a woman has a mandatory "free" ultrasound, she would likely have to pay for a second exam before, and in addition to, the actual abortion procedure. The bill also establishes a public record (including the name of the woman and the date of the procedure), in clear violation of existing laws protecting doctor-patient relationships and patient privacy of medical records. The bill is probably unconstitutional because it singles out a specific group: pregnant women seeking an abortion. It mandates a medical procedure (ultrasound) without funding it. The only other medical procedure that is "mandated" is arguably the blood test required for suspected drunk drivers who refuse to submit to a breath analysis. That test is state-funded. America failed in its last famous attempt (Prohibition, 1919-1933) to legislate morality. It's fine to have moral values, but the state has no business imposing them by mandate. Women are not stupid. Women have access to a range of information, including their own doctors, on questions relating to any decision to end an unplanned/unwanted pregnancy. It is not a state affair. I urge every intelligent reader to consider all the ramifications and oppose pre-abortion ultrasound.

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