Idaho Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder, opened the hearing on his pre-abortion ultrasound bill in committee this morning, telling the Senate State Affairs Committee, “As you know there’s been a lot of email communication, there’s been protests on the Capitol steps, people exercising their right under the 1st Amendment, and I appreciate that. … I expect some interesting testimony. I would ask you all to keep your minds open to what you hear and to be attentive to what’s happening.”
Winder said, “This was brought to me by Idaho Right to Life and a group of women who asked me to be the sponsor of this legislation. I do that proudly in that I do believe the state has an interest in protecting the life of the unborn. That’s the purpose here, at least for me.”
He said, “Some people will feel this is an intrusion into the private lives and decisions of women. I understand that and I respect their point of view. I just see that there’s a higher, at least in my opinion, need to respect the life of the unborn and to respect the life of the developing child.”
There was close to a full house in the Capitol auditorium and a line outside as the Senate State Affairs Committee prepared to debated SB 1387, the new version of SB 1349, the pre-abortion ultrasound bill. Winder, R-Meridian, introduced a new version that is identical except that it adds a severability clause - a legal move that declares that if part of the bill is overturned in court, the rest could remain in effect.
Sue Philley of Boise presented a petition with 4,000 signatures against the pre-abortion ultrasound bill. “Health care decisions are best made by patients and their medical providers, not politicians,” she told the senators. “This government intrusion into private lives makes a mockery of the expressed Republican goal of less government.” Her statement was immediately greeted by loud applause. After it died down, Senate State Affairs Chairman Curt McKenzie admonished the crowd not to make outbursts.
Philley said, “They want you to work on legislation that affects the quality of their lives. They want you to focus on jobs, education and the environment - not on their bedrooms and their private most personal family and medical decisions.” Philley was gaveled when she said people who know Sen. Winder “have told me that they are disappointed,” and told not to disparage committee members.
“The comments that people made indicates they will not support politicians who think women and families are stupid or sinful or haven’t given serious intelligent thought to their health care decisions,” Philley told the committee. “Several have likened this un-American attack on wives, daughters, friends and children’s privacy privacy to the Taliban and Sharia law.”
At that, Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, objected. “There may be disagreement on how we look at this issue, but calling people or their approaches names,” or comparing them “to others that we all would repudiate is not helpful of either side. Please be respectful in your speech. We stop listening when people take that approach, and we want to listen.”
Philley apologized. She concluded, “The regressive and repressive attitudes behind bills like this will only lead to more social and economic distress for Idahoans. Our citizens deserve better. … I do respect you. … I apologize if my comments caused you to not listen.”
Kerry Uhlenkott of Right to Life of Idaho told senators this morning, “Ultrasound is a key element in providing informed consent for women. … Doing so reduces the risk that a woman may elect an abortion only to discover later, with devastating psychological consequences that her decision was not fully informed.”
She said, “Clearly, real-time ultrasound images of the unborn child are truthful and not misleading, and can lead to a more informed consent for the woman. … Ultrasound has often been called the window to the womb.”
Uhlenkott said the bill would let the woman and the abortion provider decide whether to do an abdominal ultrasound or an invasive transvaginal ultrasound. She quoted an article saying that the transvaginal procedure, which requires the insertion of an ultrasound wand into the patient’s vagina, is “a benign and routine part of the abortion procedure,” and said it’s the “most effective method for viewing and dating” early-stage pregnancies.