At a noon rally outside the Statehouse, James Mace, an Idaho National Guardsman, novelist and screenwriter from Meridian, said he will challenge Senate Assistant Republican Leader Chuck Winder of Boise in November.
Mace said he decided to make the race at 11 p.m. Tuesday, angered by Winder's sponsorship of Senate Bill 1387, which mandates ultrasounds that determine whether or not there is a heartbeat, and, if so, the heart rate. Along with heart rate, gestational age also must be reported by a physician before a woman can receive an abortion.
Shortly after Mace's announcement, backers of SB 1387 held an exhibition in a Senate hearing room of ultrasounds with six women, two each from the first, second and third trimesters of pregnancy. The six ultrasounds were projected on three screens and were abdominal, not trans-vaginal.
"We want the babies in the womb to have an opportunity to testify on this legislation," said Brandi Swindell, founder and president of Stanton Health Care, a pro-life crisis pregnancy center in Boise. "Isn't this fun? Who doesn't love seeing an ultrasound image of a baby?"
Mace, 36, did not meet the March 9 filing deadline, but will qualify for the ballot if he receives 50 write-in votes as a Democrat in the May 15 primary. Until Wednesday, no Republican or Democrat had said they would challenge Winder.
Mace, who served a year in Iraq, said the bill distracts from the Legislature's more important duties. "What has this got to do with jobs? What has this got to do with education?"
Speaking to a crowd of about 150 opponents of the bill, Mace added, "The only thing I see this bill doing is humiliating and degrading women and trying to force their personal beliefs down somebody's throat."
Some demonstrators then went inside to the ultrasound exhibition organized by Swindell, a former candidate for Boise City Council.
After the first woman's ultrasound was shown on three screens in a committee room, Swindell said, "This is simply giving access to information that every woman deserves."
Lea Bowman, an opponent of SB 1387, interrupted, saying, "They have access, Brandi, already." Bowman was then removed from the room by an officer.
First names were provided for the women, one of whom had twins. A woman in the first trimester of pregnancy said she felt no pain. "I would do it every day if I could," she said.
Said Swindell: "Knowledge is power."
Several legislators attended the exhibition, which included testimonials from the women and health care professionals from Stanton Health Care. Two pregnant women and a nurse told stories of having had abortions.
Swindell told the last of the six, a woman in her third trimester who is expecting a boy, "You'll be able to tell Tyson Lee, 'You testified at the Capitol when you were in my stomach.'"
The House State Affairs Committee will hear public testimony on SB 1387 beginning at 7:45 a.m. Thursday. A vote is likely, said Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona.