The anti-abortion bill that passed the Idaho House on March 1 (HB 516) seeks to push women to request a “free” ultrasound with the purpose of listening to the fetal heartbeat. Proponents of this bill state that women should have all relevant information. As a diagnostic medical sonographer, trained and certified in ultrasound imaging, I can tell Idahoans that HB 516 directly conflicts with standard safe medical practices.
HB 516 states that women must receive a list of facilities that will provide a “free” ultrasound in order to listen to the heartbeat. This is only possible using a high-energy, highly focused beam of soundwaves aimed at the fetal heart. This technique, Doppler imaging, is specifically discouraged during the first trimester (first 12 weeks) by several medical associations due to potential damage to developing fetal tissues.
Additionally, HB 516 requires physicians or their agent to verbally tell their patients that there are facilities that perform ultrasound free of charge. This provision essentially mandates that physicians advocate women undergo an additional, medically unnecessary procedure at facilities that are not required to employ licensed medical personnel. These provisions do nothing to improve the health and safety of the mother and may pose significant risks to the developing baby.