Idaho House Republicans Uncertain About Prospects for Ultrasound Bill

March 23, 2012 — After canceling a committee hearing on a bill (SB 1387) that would mandate ultrasounds before abortion care, Idaho House Republicans said they are unsure if the measure will advance during the current legislative session, the AP/Idaho Statesman reports.

The bill previously passed the state Senate, and the House State Affairs Committee was scheduled to debate it on Wednesday. However, committee Chair Tom Loertscher (R) notified House Democrats Wednesday afternoon that the hearing had been canceled.

After a closed-door caucus with Republicans, House Speaker Lawerence Denney (R) indicated that lawmakers are "still discussing" how to proceed with the bill. Rep. Steve Hartgen (R) advocated for delaying action, saying that people in his district, especially women, feel that mandated ultrasounds are an inappropriate expansion of government power. He noted that of 12 Republican women he had spoken to from his district, all but one "felt this was not in the interest of either the party or women" (Miller, AP/Idaho Statesman, 3/21).

Bill's Supporters Conduct Ultrasounds at Idaho Capitol

In related news, abortion-rights opponents on Wednesday sought to rally support for the bill by performing ultrasounds on six pregnant women at the Idaho Capitol, the AP/Boston Globe reports. The women received external ultrasounds on their abdomens, not the more invasive vaginal ultrasound that physicians often use in the first trimester.

Hannah Brass, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood, said, "Victims of rape, women who have fetal anomalies wouldn't love an ultrasound." She noted that the "difference between what happened today and what we're talking about in the legislation is, the women today chose to have that ultrasound" (Miller, AP/Boston Globe, 3/21).