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Swindell at live ultrasound demonstration: ‘Isn’t this fun?’

Live ultrasound demonstration by anti-abortion activists at the Idaho state Capitol on Wednesday. (Betsy Russell)
Live ultrasound demonstration by anti-abortion activists at the Idaho state Capitol on Wednesday. (Betsy Russell)

Anti-abortion activist Brandi Swindell is conducting the live ultrasound demonstration in the Statehouse today with the enthusiastic air of a lively state fair product-demo host. "Isn't this fun? Who doesn't love seeing an ultrasound image of a baby?" she asked, adding, "Remember, this is first trimester, so the baby is tiny, tiny, tiny."

A bamboo screen hung with a banner saying, "Voices from the Womb" and "Knowledge is power," is set up to screen the table where the six pregnant volunteers from Swindell's organization, Stanton Healthcare, are taking their turns lying down for ultrasounds that are being projected on screens. Only two lawmakers have been sitting through the demonstration, Rep. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, and Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, though a few others have stopped in briefly. Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, popped in for about 3 minutes before heading off to the House. Asked what he thought, he said he'd seen ultrasounds of both his children before, but said, "It's neat." Sen. Mitch Toryanski, R-Boise, also sat in for a few minutes.

At one point, Swindell declared, "This is just simply giving women access to medical information that every woman deserves, every woman deserves this. ... Women deserve access to medically accurate information." A woman in the audience called out, "I have access, Brandi, already." Swindell then admonished the audience, which consists mostly of onlookers and reporters; there also are protesters in the hallway. "I hear a lot of mocking and I hear a lot of laughing," Swindell said. "I think it's highly insensitive."

The crowd quieted, but later, several began heckling Swindell and there was loud applause; volunteers and Idaho State Police officers escorted the hecklers out of the room.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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