Idaho Senate Passes Ultrasound Bill

March 21, 2012 — The Idaho Senate on Monday voted 23-12 to approve a bill (SB 1387) that would require a woman to receive an ultrasound before an abortion, Reuters reports. The bill, sponsored by Assistant Senate Majority Leader Chuck Winder (R), now advances to the House, where it is expected to pass.

Winder's bill, which is modeled after a Texas law, would require abortion providers to give women the option to hear the fetal heartbeat and view the ultrasound image (Zuckerman, Reuters, 3/19). The measure does not include an exemption for medical emergencies or cases of rape or incest (AP/NECN, 3/19).

Opponents of the bill said doctors would have to perform transvaginal ultrasounds to meet its requirements early in pregnancy, when most abortions occur. The bill requires abortion providers "to record the gestational age and fetal heart rate if present," Rep. John Rusche (D), a physician, noted. He added, "That info can really only be determined by the 'internal' study."

The bill's supporters argued it would protect women. "It provides the opportunity for [women] to learn all the important facts before making this life-changing decision," a statement by Right to Life of Idaho said (Reuters, 3/19).