What's the status of the Idaho ultrasound bill? Here's my best guess

Is the ultrasound abortion bill dead or alive? There has to be a more sensitive way to word the question.

Still, this is the most compelling storyline from the Legislature this week. Probably the most interesting storyline of the 2012 session.

My best guess: It’s too early to call this over. I’ll get back to that. But let’s first give Wednesday’s remarkable events their due.

As the day started, the ultrasound bill appeared to be on glide path to Gov. Butch Otter’s desk. The bill had already cleared the Senate — which, historically, takes a dimmer view of hot-button social issues. The House State Affairs Committee was scheduled to take up the issue Thursday morning.

Then the issue went weirdly volcanic. Bill supporters demonstrated the ultrasound procedure for anyone with an inclination to gawk. Protesters showed up outside the Statehouse — and to add to the drama, a Democratic opponent, James Mace, announced a write-in challenge to Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, the sponsor of the ultrasound bill.

By Wednesday afternoon, House Republicans had raised enough objections to the bill that Thursday’s committee hearing was abruptly canceled. The bill remains on hold, at this writing.

The recap from Wednesday provides an important backdrop. Without question, the ultrasound bill is the most volatile issue of the 2012 session. Because it has exploded in March, less than two months before the party primary elections, it will be the issue, the vote, foremost on voters’ minds.

(In other words, step aside, Students Come First. The hotly contested education overhaul will still be an election issue, because it is the issue that most directly affects the greatest number of constituents. But politics is driven by the emotion of the moment, and this pushes education overhaul to second-string status — at least for the primaries, and until the Students Come First referenda show up on the November ballot.)

So here we are, with elections looming as soon as this Legislature finally adjourns. Some House Republicans see this unpopular, overreaching bill as a threat to their re-election. It could be. As we said in an editorial last week, the 2012 ultrasound debate has shades of the 1990 fight over a restrictive abortion bill that cost Republicans 10 legislative seats and control of the state Senate.

But first things first. Republicans will hold a historic closed primary on May 15, which is likely to draw a small but conservative voter sample. While some House Republicans might want no part of a vote on the ultrasound bill, others might see a yes vote as a way of solidfying their credentials with the right — even though requiring an intrusive medical procedure doesn’t exactly square with conservative ideals.

Now, let’s consider the 23 Senate Republicans who voted for the ultrasound bill Monday — going on record in favor of this coarse and coercive mandate.

Whether this bill becomes law or not, 19 of these senators will seek re-election this year. Eleven face opponents in the May GOP primary, and if Mace qualifies for the ballot to run against Winder, 12 will face contested races in the fall. Since these senators will have to spend the election year explaining their ultrasound vote to constituents anyway, they’d probably like to have some law to show for their efforts.

The X factor in all of this is Otter, who is prudently keeping his own counsel. Otter could veto this bill, and based on Monday’s vote, there would be just enough votes in the Senate to uphold a veto. But would the threat of a veto dissuade House supporters from at least forcing a vote and pressing the issue? I doubt it. Keep in mind, the legislators are on the ballot this year, unlike Otter.

Bottom line: I think it’s premature to declare the ultrasound bill dead, as some opponents did with glee after the bill ran into turbulence in caucus. There are too many senators with a stake in this issue now, and an undetermined, but likely significant, bloc of House members who considers this bill some combination of good policy and good politics. The Legislature can move rapidly in the final day of a session, especially when lawmakers consider it in their best personal interests.

Meanwhile, here at the Statesman, the beat goes on. On Sunday, we will run more than two dozen letters on the ultrasound bill, either in print or online. And they’re still coming in. It makes sense for the debate to continue. More likely than not, the bill remains very much in play.

Silly Legislators

Obviously there is a large portion of Idahoans who are not adequately represented by their state leadership. This is the 'real' world, and it is not an 'ideal' world.

ultrasound bill

It doesn't take being for abortion to realize this bill is nothing more that legislated bullying. If Idaho lawmakers would spend more time on issues that matter and not on being distracted by things such as this, which already has existing laws, as well as practices, in place, we might actually progress during a legislative session for a change. At this point, to save money, maybe we need to consider convening the state legislature once every two years. Furthermore, I, for one, will be checking into how to contribute to James Mace's write in candidacy. We need candidates who actually work for their constituencies, and are not distracted by self serving people who seek to further their own personal agenda on legislative time. It's long past time to give up sound bites, to abandon foaming at the mouth on sensitive issues, and do the work that is needed to bring and keep Idaho to a position of substance and progress. We need to elect people who can think, who are determined to work, and work hard, and, to give ourselves credit for the wealth of resources we have as a state, in people, environment, culture, and native determination, in order to regain credibility both locally and nationally.


I don't think it's a pro-life issue. The supporters certainly to though.

And it's a good distraction from the budget-
Who knows what the Idaho GOP leaders might be slipping under our noses while the media is distracted with this monster bill?

What's a bigger back lash, last years Luna's bill or this sonogram bill?

ultrasound or sonogram?

I think it's actaully sonogram KR? see your first sentence.

Talk of the Town

Everywhere I have gone the past two days this has been topic #1. What are the legislators who voted for this piece of legislation going to do now? Let's watch them squirm as they try to determine next steps...appropriate since this was unnecessary and politically motivated from the start. I'd like to know what happened to some of the jobs bills that were presented this year that would have benefited their constituents. Unfortunately, they were too busy mandating unnecessary medical tests for women to consider legislation that would have created jobs in Idaho.

Time to

"Mace" Winder.



He who

troubles his own house shall inherit the Wind(er).

These GOP Taliban had better stop troubling Idaho's "house," or they'll find a cold wind blowing from the Left and the Middle come November.

Continuing the fight

If opponents and proponents of this legislation are going to keep on fighting, they need to come up with some strong intellectual arguments for why the bill should be defeated or passed.

Several opponents have predicted that if this bill becomes law, it will end up in court, so try to imagine yourselves making a case before a judge. Would any of you stand before a judge and scream rape, rape, rape!!?

Supporters of the bill are going to point out that Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the nation, has already mandated preabortion ultrasounds for all their abortion patients. No ultrasound, no abortion. While the rate of abortions has declined somewhat since ultrasounds were introduced to prenatal health care, the total number of abortions performed annually has increased, so PP has not found this policy to be an "undue burden" on their clients, and they have sound medical and legal reasons for requiring ultrasounds for all abortion patients. How do you plan to argue in court that in spite of PP's policies, you believe preabortion ultrasounds are an "unnecessary procedure" and an invasion of a woman's privacy?

The high Court has already upheld 24-hour waiting periods before an abortion and informed consent measures imposed by states even when the purpose behind such measures is to dissuade women from having an abortion (Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 1992)
What argument would you offer to persuade the Court to reverse itself on this ruling?
That women are already well informed and are having too much information shoved at them? Do you have evidence to prove that in court?

We have informed consent laws governing other medical procedures that spell out the type of information doctors must provide their patients. Why should abortion be excluded from this genre of law?

How does S.B. 1387 infringe on a woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy?

What is Constitutionally wrong with states adopting a policy modeled after the best practices among abortion providers? The best argument I've seen put forth in that regard is that it is unusual for the State to mandate that a specific medical procedure be performed. The rebuttal to that argument is that in terms of informed consent, an ultrasound provides the most detailed, unbiased, patient-specific information, and you have to do the ultrasound in order to be able to provide a woman with the best available information about her pregnancy. Is there an acceptable compromise to these arguments?

You can temporarily kill a legislative proposal with populist rhetoric, but abortion involves important legal questions that will not be resolved with rhetoric from either side. Other states have already passed laws similar to S.B. 1387, and sooner or later one or more of those laws is going to be examined by the Supreme Court - I'm guessing within the next two years - so opponents and proponents would be wise to set aside their emotional investments and argue the pros and cons of these laws from a legal perspective. Hard to do when you are not a trained lawyer and aren't familiar with established law, but if we want to be part of the process and not just the background noise, we have to at least make an effort to understand and talk about the legal issues instead of babbling on about object rape and murder.

The problem with your

The problem with your argument is that it is an incomplete description of the bill, and the most objectionable parts of the legislation are what you left out.

The legislation wants records of heart rates. In woman in early pregnancy, these are generally not available from an external abdominal ultrasound, which, I understand, is what Planned Parenthood requires in order to make sure there is a fetus to abort.

It is worth remembering that the Supreme Court in Casey also struck down some requirements -- spousal requirements in particular -- because they were thought to to be potentially unduly burdensome on the woman involved. An intravaginal ultrasound would seem to fit that prescription.

I agree that rational argument is important here. I am an unabashed opponent of abortion, but this bill is out of line and, from all appearances, intentionally so.

You understand wrongly, Cuhulin

I appreciate your thoughtful reply to my post, but PP does require transvaginal ultrasounds for women in the early weeks of pregnancy. If women object to this, they are told they can wait until their pregnancy is further along making an abdominal ultrasound practical. How many women do you think prefer to wait until the fetus has developed more distinctly human features or until they need a more complex surgical abortion? Not very many!

To those who say that PP is a private organization that can do whatever it wants to do, that is not the point. The point is that opponents of this bill need to shore up the consistency in their arguments - consistent with abortion medicine realities. Women who have had abortions have been consenting to these transvaginal ultrasouds for 10 or 12 years now with no public outrage by the pro-choice lobby against abortion providers, but all of a sudden because state governments want to require them, the procedure is being described as unnecessary, invasive, and even rape. They can't have it both ways - necessary when PP requires them, but unnecessary when the State requires them. Do they want to outlaw transvaginal ultrasounds altogether? If so, they need to make that argument instead of clinging to a double standard.

Planned Parenthood v. Casey is a very long court decision that addressed several issues, but I think Part IV which addressed informed consent measures is the most relevant to S.B. 1387. There they clearly stated that even if such measures are meant to encourage women to go through with child birth, this would not in itself invalidate such laws or pose an undue burden. You may not agree with their opinion, but you need to understand the Court tries to follow its own logic from case to case and only rarely does an about face. We do have two new pro-choice women on the Court since Casey was decided, so it's hard to predict what the Court will do, but I'm inclined to think the pro-choice lobby would rather not take a chance on finding out. Unfortunately, the horse is already out of the barn in other states and whatever is eventually decided will have an impact on Idaho's abortion policy.

Medical professionals vs. Uneducated/uninfomred legislators

and lobbyists. I have no problem with medical professionals deciding an ultrasound (or any other procedure) is necessary to provide the best care possible. Why? Because they actually make these decisions based on best practices and appropriate standards of care. On the other hand, legislators and lobbyists should not be making these decisions until they get a medical degrees and start treating patients.

PP vs Govt

Different issues.

Planned Parenthood can require the woman to stand on her head if they so choose (ignoring any govt funding issues). A private clinic can require whatever they want...

For the state to write a law that has such connotations is worthy of a veto.

Alternatively, how about if the religous righteous actually funded a clinic for THEIR style of 'health care'? Followed up with funding the adoption agency and foster care to go with their desired outcome.

I would like to see Winder put HIS money where his mouth is (without the foot).

"...(ignoring any govt funding issues)". Just to be clear....

Planned Parenthood is supported by the Fed Govt through our taxes. PP took $487.4 million in '09-'10 (has over $1 billion in total assets!) and performed over 329,000 abortions that year. I don't condemn people (and I'm not suggesting you do either) for wanting more control and accountability regarding the use of our tax dollars.

govt dollars

PP gets about a third of their funds from govt sources.
It also does a lot of health related 'education' efforts that our schools don't do. It also has over 700,000 members donating private money. Including the Gates Foundation and Mr. MoneyMan Warren Buffett.

The current Wiki says federal funds can't be allocated toward abortions.
Groups United vs. Planned Parenthood. Politico. February 2, 2011. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/48651.html.


More control and accountability?
Pretty sure there is already plenty of that in this department.

How about if we spend our time and resources seeking more control and accountability in say,,, National Forest Service, or the TSA and Homeland Security?

Federally funded abortions

Federal funds, specifically Medicaid, can be used to fund abortions for low-income women if the abortion is necessitated by rape, incest, or a medical condition that endangers the health or life of the mother. According to Planned Parenthood about 7% of the over one million abortions performed annually fall into these categories, and not all of those would be Medicaid eligible women. I don't have a problem with that, but I just wanted you to know that federal funds can be used for abortions in these circ-u-mstances.

Last week Harry Reid tried to attach an amendment to a large appropriations bill (transportation? defense? - I forget which) that would have provided federal funds for abortions, but fortunately that amendment got pulled.


good to know.

seems like an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


If the Obama administration succeeds in shutting down Catholic hospitals, charities, and adoption agencies, I trust you are going to step in and fill the gap.

FWIW, I'm not Catholic, and there are hundreds of other religious organization doing the same kind of work they do.

Now we've got Mayor Bloomberg in New York denying churches and other groups the right to donate prepared food to the poor, because they might not be low-sodium products. Good grief!

Idaho times

good point BTW- and it seems most of those organizations are elsewhere- not so much in Idaho. I know lots of the right-wing righteous and they are on the low side of donating THEIR money and time on their causes beyond the Sunday plate.

Can you, or anyone, think of any such organizations right in RiverCity?

Pro-life AND financially supporting medical clinics/care, adoption agencies, and foster care programs?

Ultrasounds/Planned Parenthood

Yes, Planned Parenthood was previously doing normal (abdominal) ultrasounds before giving women abortions. How do I know? I had a medication induced one a year and a half ago. Now, before you jump down my throat about it, due to my income, I paid full price (not cheap!). Your tax dollars did not play a part in the termination of my pregnancy!

I had the choice to view the ultrasound or not, I chose not to.

If I could go back in time, would I repeat my choice? Absolutely.

The decision to have an abortion is obviously an incredibly monumental one. A PERSONAL ONE. Not to be taken lightly. It weighs heavily on the heart for some time afterwards. Had I been forced to go through a trans-vaginal ultrasound as well, and also hear a heartbeat or listen to the nurse describe the fetus would it have changed my choice? No. However, it would have probably made the mental anguish of going through such a thing much worse.

Planned Parenthood is a wonderful place. Yes, they do abortions. They also do many other things. I have insurance, I follow all of my regularly scheduled womanly things. My favorite clinic since I was a teen has been PP. If I feel like being treated like a woman, who can think for herself, make choices, and be RESPECTED: I go to Planned Parenthood. If I feel like being treated like a lemming in a sea of retards: I go to St.Alphonsus. No offense to the big box doctors, but everything/everyone is just a number there. I have gotten nothing short of respect and understanding in Planned Parenthood's offices, in Idaho and in other states. They do paps, they do cancer screenings, they can give you birth control, they can test for diseases, and they are top notch at it. They actually care about you, which is more than I can say for just about every other clinic I've ever stepped foot in.

There are so many unwanted, unloved children in this already overpopulated world. I wish these MEN would consider that we're all big girls, we know what we're doing, we thought about it. They do not need to tell us what to do with OUR bodies, our uteruses! That is OUR choice and no one else's. There are enough hoops one has to jump through in the first place. Let's keep it somewhat sane!

Having to convince a counselor that "rape" was actually rape is just asinine. We are not savages! Get real. Let's just add insult to injury there. Sheesh....

Get these trolls out of power!!!