Senate Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder said Monday that he and a pro-life coalition have stripped a controversial provision that required invasive ultrasounds before early-term abortions.
"We took that out," said Winder, R-Boise, shortly before the Senate State Affairs Committee met at 8 a.m. to consider introducing his bill.
But Sara Kiesler, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, said the measure would still require transvaginal exams, though the explicit reference to the procedure has been excised.
"By requiring an obstetric ultrasound of the method preferred by the dctor, due to the gestation at which a woman typically has an abortion, this essentially requires a transvaginal ultrasound without calling it out by name," Kiesler said Monday.
The bill would add a new requirement that an ultrasound must be performed before an abortion. Seven other states have similar provisions.
The Idaho bill allows the patient to decline to see the image.
Kerry Uhlenkott of Right to Life of Idaho presented the bill to the committee. "Because ultrasounds is a key element of informed consent, it should be required," she said.
The committee voted to introduce the bill, which also requires the state inform pregnant women about facilities that offer free ultrasounds. The panel's two Democrats opposed introduction, but Republicans backed the bill, which will return to the committee for a hearing.
Last week, a bill requiring the invasive procedure was dropped by Virginia Republicans. One Virginia lawmaker called the bill "state-mandated rape" and the provision was ridiculed by Amy Poehler on "Saturday Night Live" and Jon Stewart on his Comedy Central show.
The earlier version of Winder's draft bill would have required women early in pregnancy and seeking an abortion to undergo a transvaginal sonogram, in which a wand is inserted in the vagina to produce an image of the fetus. To perform an abdominal sonogram, a wand is rubbed over the patient's belly.
The transvaginal procedure is necessary obtain a detailed image in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Winder's original provision was intended to require that a readable image of a developing fetus be available to the patient.
Winder said his revised draft leaves the decision on whether to employ an abdominal or transvaginal sonogram to the patient and her provider.
"That'll be up to the physician and the patient as to what they want to do," Winder said, adding that he decided requiring the invasive procedure went too far.
The goal of the legislation is to reduce the number of abortions, Winder said. He said women who see ultrasound results sometimes change their minds and continue their pregnancies.