The Idaho Senate voted along party lines—27 to 7—Monday to approve House Bill 154a which would place greater restrictions on Idaho abortions. The measure requires a physician to conduct an in-person exam and counseling to any pregnant woman before she's allowed to undergo a chemical abortion using RU-486. Though the bill had been previously passed by the Idaho House, the measure has since been amended, thus requiring another vote by the House before the bill can be sent to Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter.
The bill triggered a flood of national media attention in February, when, during a hearing before the Idaho House State Affairs Committee, Republican Rep. Vito Barbieri infamously
asked a healthcare professional if a gynecological exam could be conducted when a woman swallowed a small camera.
In Monday's debate on the Senate floor, Republican sponsor Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, pointed to so-called "web-cam abortions," referring to tele-health appointments that are common in rural Idaho.
"We want to be preemptive and protect women from the practice," said Nuxoll.
But Moscow Democratic Sen. Dan Schmidt, who is a physician, told his fellow senators that they were "acting like doctors" in rewriting current medical practices.
"That's what we're doing here. We're putting a rule in the statute to define medical practice," said Schmidt.
And Boise Democratic Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb argued that the bill limits "access to (medication abortion), forcing women to unnecessarily undergo a more invasive procedure."