February 28, 2012 in Idaho

Bill would require ultrasound for abortion

Idaho lawmaker says state has ‘right to look after … unborn child’
By The Spokesman-Review

BOISE – Controversial anti-abortion legislation that would require an ultrasound before any woman could have an abortion in Idaho was introduced in the state Senate on Monday.

Similar legislation that caused a brouhaha in Virginia was withdrawn last week.

In the very early stages of pregnancy, before eight weeks gestation, a regular abdominal ultrasound doesn’t provide a clear picture of the fetus, requiring instead a transvaginal ultrasound that includes penetration of the patient with an ultrasound wand.

In Virginia, a female lawmaker called the original proposal “state-mandated rape,” according to the Associated Press.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and GOP lawmakers abandoned their bill last week after an outcry and national ridicule on TV programs like “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “Saturday Night Live.” An amended bill is now pending in that state.

The Idaho bill was introduced Monday by Idaho Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder, R-Meridian, in the Senate State Affairs Committee on a party-line vote, with only the panel’s two Democrats objecting.

“Because ultrasound is a key element of informed consent, it should be required that a woman have that before she has an abortion upon her,” Kerry Uhlenkott, legislative director of Right to Life of Idaho, told the senators. “Information empowers a woman to make true, informed decisions.”

Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, immediately moved to introduce the bill, and Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, seconded the motion.

The Idaho bill doesn’t specify whether the ultrasound should be abdominal or transvaginal. It says only, “The physician who is to perform the abortion or a qualified technician shall perform an obstetric ultrasound on the pregnant patient, using whichever method the physician and patient agree is best under the circumstances.”

Winder said if the woman and doctor opt for the noninvasive procedure and it provides no clear picture, “Then there’s no harm done.”

Winder said while he’s not aware of any other Idaho state law requiring that a medical procedure be performed without the patient’s consent, “I think it’s an appropriate thing in this case to do, because you’re trying to determine the developmental stage of the fetus. … We feel that the state does have a right to look after that unborn child.”

The bill now will be scheduled for a full hearing in the committee.

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