BOISE – More than 200 people gathered at a rally on Idaho’s Capitol steps Thursday to protest a bill requiring Idaho women to undergo an ultrasound before they can have an abortion.
The measure, Senate Bill 1349, is scheduled for a committee hearing next Wednesday; the rally coincided with International Women’s Day.
Hannah Brass of Planned Parenthood told the crowd she’s disappointed the Idaho 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 saying, “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, executive 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” because she and her doctor had made that decision, she said.
A counterprotester across the street held a large blue-and-orange sign – Boise State University 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 made no comment. As it ended, another counterprotester climbed the steps and began shouting about abortion but was ignored.
When Winder introduced the bill, he said he hopes women who see the ultrasounds will decide not to have abortions. The bill, however, doesn’t require women to look at the ultrasounds.
As the crowd, which was about three-quarters female, broke up after the rally, participants who’d just been reminded of the hearing date called to each other, “See you Wednesday.”