Idaho To Vote On Bill Forcing Ultrasound Before Abortion

Idaho’s state senate may vote as early as today on a bill that will force women to get a medically unnecessary ultrasound before terminating an unwanted pregnancy. Anti-abortion activists say forcing a woman to have an ultrasound gives her “more information” before an abortion. Pro-choice activists and doctors say this is just another a tactic to restrict middle- and low-income women’s access to abortion, as the additional cost can be prohibitively expensive for women who already may be struggling to pay to end an unwanted pregnancy.

And guess who would love to jump in and “help” with that financial conundrum? Idaho’s so-called “crisis pregnancy centers,” which offer free ultrasounds to women but are staffed by anti-abortion activists — not actual doctors! — who will do everything, including lie to women, to stop them from terminating a pregnancy. Several cities around the country have actually passed legislation to thwart CPCs from misleading women.  

So, to recap: Idaho women would be forced by law to have an ultrasound and if they cannot afford that ultrasound, the only place they could get one for free would be from anti-abortion activists.

Let’s have a big round of applause for women’s health care in America, everybody!

Idaho’s forced ultrasound bill has been sketchy from the get-go: its actual stipulations were unclear even to the State Senator who proposed it as to whether the bill would mandate standard on-the-belly ultrasounds or transvaginal ultrasounds, which are the invasive procedures eventually removed from a similar bill in Virginia after nationwide outcry. Transvaginal ultrasounds have been decried as “state-mandated rape,” given how women are forced to undergo this invasive procedure. With this likely in mind, the Idaho language was later amended, according to The New York Times, to require “whichever method the physician and patient agree is best under the circumstances.” However! Pro-choice activists say even that language is a smokescreen, seeing as abortion opponents often want women to be forced to hear the fetal heartbeat or see an image of fetus, which are more clear through the transvaginal ultrasound. In any case, women would be forced to have the ultrasound yet would not be required by law to view the image or hear the heartbeat — which essentially means they would be paying to have a medically unnecessary ultrasound for no reason. The icing on the cake? Idaho’s bill also does not exempt victims of rape or incest.

If all this f**kery sounds familiar, that’s because it is: currently women in Virginia and Texas are forced to have a medically unncessary ultrasound before an abortion (each with separate stipulations on how it must be performed — you can read about Virginia here and Texas here). It is unclear how Idaho’s state senate will vote on the procedure, but it’s certainly causing controversy: one female Republican state senator rightly pointed out the hypocrisy of her follow Republicans complaining about health care reform mandates coming from the federal government while they were legislating women’s health issues in their own state. Good point!

If you are concerned about the Idaho bill, the blog Reproductive Health Reality Check has a list of key politicians in the state you can contact.

[New York Times]

[Boise State Public Radio]

[Reproductive Health Reality Check]


Contact the author of this post at [email protected] Follow me on Twitter at @JessicaWakeman.