A mandatory ultrasound bill in Idaho that looks similar to the Virginia and Texas mandatory ultrasound bills moved out of committee and will be going to a floor vote. Idaho Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder introduced SB 1387, originally SB 1349, which forces women to have a transabdonminal or transvaginal ultrasound prior to having an abortion and for the medical personal to attempt to hear a fetal heartbeat.
Not only is having an ultrasound prior to an abortion medically unnecessary but it would also be costly to the woman. A major difference between this bill and others like it is that this bill states that either a doctor or someone else at the clinic where the abortion is being performed must administer the ultrasound.
The legislators in support of the bill have avoided discussing the financial hardship of the procedure to women by adding into the bill that the Department of Health and Welfare will maintain a list of places where women can obtain ultrasounds for free. However, the list appears like it will consist primarily of Limited Pregnancy Health Centers, also known as the anti-choice and anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers. The problem is that these centers do not in fact provide abortions and thus would not even conform to the current requirements of the bill. Women would still most likely be forced to pay for an ultrasound at the clinic where they go for the actual abortion, unless changes to the bill are made allowing ultrasounds from crisis pregnancy centers. Additionally, crisis pregnancy centers have been known to use deceptive tactics on women in an attempt to influence their opinion and persuade them not to have an abortion.
There are a number of issues with this anti-choice and anti-abortion bill. Trust Women will always oppose mandatory ultrasound bills when such ultrasounds are medically unnecessary procedures. The government is over-stepping its place in the lives of women and their families if they are now dictating procedures that interfere in medical decisions that should be made by medical professionals. Requiring physicians to act against their medical judgment and perform medically unnecessary procedures on women disrespects women’s choice and intelligence and violates the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship.
Additionally, this Idaho bill in particular requires a financial cost to women of having the unnecessary medical procedure performed. This places undue burdens on women’s constitutionally protected right to an abortion. To avoid the cost, Idaho will be directing women to crisis pregnancy centers. These women, who are already in a vulnerable position, will not be given medically accurate information at these clinics and these clinics will attempt to persuade them against having an abortion. Thus, the state is directing women to inaccurate information that does anything but promote informed consent for the women themselves.
Finally, the real purpose of the bill is not to make sure women are better informed as it states (in fact it does the opposite by directing them to crisis pregnancy centers) but to merely restrict abortions and cause a decline in the number of women having abortions. This was admitted by the introducing Senator Chuck Winder who responded to the concern that the mandatory ultrasounds could put financial pressure on women seeking an abortion by saying the bill is meant “to convince a woman not to go through with abortions.” Abortion is still a constitutionally protected right in this country and bills whose sole purpose is to infringe on this right are unacceptable.