BOISE - More than 200 people gathered at a rally on the Idaho state capitol steps today to protest against SB 1349, the bill to require Idaho women to undergo an ultrasound before they can have an abortion.
The measure is scheduled for a committee hearing next Wednesday; the rally coincided with International Women’s Day.
Hannah Brass of Planned Parenthood told the crowd, “Although I’m happy to see so many people here today, I’m really disappointed.” She said she’s disappointed that Idaho’s Legislature is considering this type of law; similar measures have raised controversy in several other states this year.
“This election season has become a referendum on women’s bodies,” Brass said. “Let’s be clear: Laws like these do not help women.”
Those in the crowd carried signs with slogans including, “A uterus is not a state affair,” “No forced entry” “Protect Women’s Health,” and “GOP Hates Women.” The bill was introduced on a party-line vote last week, at the behest of Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder, R-Meridian.
Monica Hopkins, director of the ACLU of Idaho, said, “Stop using women’s reproductive health as a political campaign tool. … Mandating an invasive procedure for political reasons is the ultimate in government intrusion.”
Other speakers included a registered nurse, Jennifer Carter, who told the crowd that 11 weeks into a high-risk pregnancy, she underwent a transvaginal ultrasound, the invasive ultrasound procedure used early in pregnancy to get a clear picture of the fetus. “It was an uncomfortable procedure, but one that I felt was necessary,” she said, but only because she and her doctor had decided that.
A counter-protester across the street held a large blue-and-orange sign, Boise State Broncos colors, proclaiming, “Abortion murders future Broncos.”
Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, who said he plans to sponsor the bill in the House, watched the end of the rally from the side of the steps, but had no comment. As it ended, a sole counter-protester climbed the steps and began shouting about abortion, but was ignored.
When Winder introduced the bill, he said he hopes that women who see the ultrasounds – though the bill doesn’t require them to look at them – will decide not to have abortions.
As the crowd, which was about three-quarters female, broke up after today’s rally, participants who’d just been reminded of the hearing date called to each other, “See you Wednesday.”