by Carissa Wolf
Their signs called on lawmakers to let women make their own decisions and “Get politics out of health care.”
Their voices challenged what protesters said was the "hypocrisy" of a legislature that, on one hand, wants less government intervention in the lives of Americans but, at the same time, introduces a measure that opponents said would turn medical decisions over to politicians.
“I was a witness to the women’s movement in the 1960s and it amazes me that we are still at this, 60 years later - fighting for women’s freedom to make reproductive choices,” said Andrea Ahmed-Zaid, standing amid supporters, oposing a bill that would require women to undergo an ultrasound prior to having an abortion.
“Lawmakers continue to try and legislate choices that are personal and private and I’m tired of it,” said Ahmed-Zaid.
More than 200 opponents to Senate Bill 1349, also known as the ultrasound abortion bill, gathered on the Statehouse steps Thursday afternoon, spilling to the sidewalks, to voice outrage at what they called "an effort by narrow interests to limit safe and legal access to abortions."
“It is a government intrusion. It is a mandate,” said Monica Hopkins, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho. She said the bill would violate women’s constitutional right to bodily integrity.
“This is about politicians trying to bully, shame and demean women,” Hopkins said.
Across the street from the demonstration stood three supporters of the legislation backed by Right to Life Idaho. One held a sign that read, “Abortion murders future Broncos.”
“We have seen legislative bills that make no sense,” Leo Morales, public education and communications coordinator for the ACLU of Idaho, told the crowd. “The bill questions women’s ability to make informed decisions.”
The proposed legislation leaves the type of ultrasound used up to a physician, but opponents of the measure said that the language of the bill still left women vulnerable to what they called "forced transvaginal ultrasounds," a method that some physicians may decide upon. The bill also does not exempt victims of rape or incest from having to undergo the procedure.
“If this bill were passed, (rape victims) would have no choice but to be raped again,” Jennifer Venoukur Carter told the crowd. “A woman should never have a foreign object put in her body without her consent. It’s wrong.”