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Editorial: Intrusive ultrasounds test Otter’s principles

The Idaho Senate passed a bill on Monday that would force women to undergo an ultrasound examination before having an abortion. This intrusive, coercive bill is so extreme that some senators who voted for a constitutionally dubious anti-abortion bill last year rejected this one.

The only senator north of Lewiston who backed the forced ultrasound bill was Steve Vick of Dalton Gardens. Among the dozen senators who voted no are Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d’Alene, Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, and Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow. We urge North Idaho legislators in the House to do the same.

Goedde and Hammond supported a bill last year that banned abortions after the fetal age of 20 weeks, even though the Idaho attorney general’s office said the bill would probably be overturned, because a U.S. Supreme Court case – Roe v. Wade – set the time of fetal viability at 22 to 24 weeks. But this time they said the Senate was going too far.

Hammond offered this sensible summation of the issue: “There seems to be a presumption that a woman considering abortion is uninformed and needs government guidance. … But I would submit that rather than government guidance, their guidance should come from their physician and their family and their clergy.”

Vick, on the other hand, stated that the bill “gives the unborn one more chance to make the case that they should live.” Vick is generally anti-government, so it is odd that he would ask the government to intrude on a private matter.

The bill now goes to the House, which is expected to pass it. Considering Idaho’s long history of adopting unconstitutional abortion laws, that’s a safe prediction.

Put simply, if there is no medical reason for an ultrasound, one should not be mandated. The state already provides detailed information to women who are considering abortions. To force them to undergo an unwanted test just to add photos is offensive.

The bill caused a larger uproar when first introduced, because it could’ve been interpreted as mandating an intrusive vaginal examination. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Meridian, rewrote that section, but opponents are fearful that such exams could be still required because they’re best suited to produce the information the bill calls for.

But even a lesser exam is unwarranted when its sole purpose is to shame women into changing their minds. Some legislators object to the “war on women” characterization of the bill, but they’re the ones providing the ammunition when they so clearly distrust women with this highly personal decision.

Gov. Butch Otter prides himself on being a defender of individual liberty, but he has been conspicuously silent about this attempted intrusion. If he is true to his small-government principles, he will step forward and shame lawmakers who are forsaking theirs. And if they pass this bill, he will veto it.

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