by Carissa Wolf
Critics of a controversial measure that would require pre-abortion ultrasounds for all women are urging opponents of the proposal to keep the heat on lawmakers despite the bill’s limbo status.
Senate Bill 1387 was slated for consideration by a House commitee after sailing through the Idaho Senate by a 23-12 margin.
The future of the bill went into limbo when House State Affairs Chairman Tom Loertscher abruptly yanked the legislation from the House calendar on Wednesday. The move came on the heels of a media frenzy surrounding comments made by the bill’s sponsor, Republican Sen. Chuck Winder, about rape victims. The comments sparked outrage from women across the country, who called the comments insensitive and demeaning. Pundits and reporters noted that proponents of the measure didn’t help their cause with a highly unusual ultrasound demonstration at the Statehouse that same day.
Despite those developments, opponents are not ready to call the bill dead.
“The media is reporting that the House is backing off the bill because it is an election year. But this bill is an example of the government intrusion that takes place into women's health care every year in Idaho, and we need to let our legislators know that we've had enough,” Hannah Brass, Idaho Legislative director at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, said in a media statement. “Session ends on March 28, and we need to keep up the pressure on the House and governor to ensure that private medical decisions are left between a woman and her doctor.”
Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and a collation of women’s right’s advocates have called on constituents to keep writing letters, signing petitions and calling lawmakers until they effectively kill the bill and bury it with the end of the legislative session. Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest sent out an “action alert” Friday, urging members to remind lawmakers that “women and men have expressed concern with S.B. 1387, which requires women seeking an abortion to undergo a state-mandated ultrasound. This bill makes no exceptions for rape and incest victims, and does not make any medical emergency exceptions.”
The introduction of the measure aligned Idaho with a national effort to force women to undergo ultrasounds with the ultimate aim of reducing the number of abortions. Winder crafted the legislation that shadows measures in Texas and Virginia with the help of Right to Life of Idaho. He said he drafted the bill to help inform women about pregnancy gestation with the hope that an ultrasound would serve as a mind-changer for women thinking about termiinating their pregnancy.