News Abortion

Alabama Senator Backs Off Forced Trans-Vaginal Ultrasound Bill, But Alabama Women Aren’t Backing Down

Andy Kopsa

Unable to say the word "vaginal," one of the authors of the forced trans-vaginal ultrasound bill in Alabama says he will pull it.  But the women of Alabama won't stand for replacing it with forced abdominal ultrasounds or any other form of coercion.

Senator Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville) said Monday he would be pulling the bill that would have required a woman to undergo a trans-vaginal ultrasound in order to obtain an abortion in Alabama.

Apparently unable to use the word “vaginal” Scofield said of his decision to pull the bill, “It wasn’t my intention to require any certain ultrasound.”

Though the legislation had been under a microscope since last year, Scofield inexplicably claimed, “Had this [forced vaginal ultrasounds] been brought to my attention sooner, clarifications and modifications would have been made.”

But Mary Posey is not impressed.  She told Rewire, “This is a rally for Alabama voters to show Sen. Scofield that we will not be appeased by amendments or a substitution to SB12. It must be withdrawn.”

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Posey is one of the organizers of a an anti- SB12 rally scheduled for Thursday in Montgomery.  The rally is expected to draw around 100 people.

Echoing growing sentiment by women across the country, Posey said,  “It is also our message to all Alabama legislators that our votes will not go to anyone who supports this bill or any similar bill seeking to interfere with women’s health care, an issue that should be left up to the woman and her physician.”

Posey wants even more attention drawn to these non-victories, the retreat from radical, invasive state-sanctioned rape bills to “merely” forcing an abdominal ultrasound:

“We want this bill and other bills like it pulled from consideration, debate, and vote. We want our legislators to know that our votes will not go to anyone who supports these anti-women’s rights bills.”

This was played out recently in Virginia.  A rally against Virginia’s ultrasound law turned into an occasion to call out the riot police.  

“About a thousand women’s rights protesters descended on the state Capitol Saturday afternoon to protest anti-abortion legislation in the General Assembly, and then things got ugly,” reports Style Weekly’s Vernal Colman.

“About 20 State Police officers, many in swat gear with face shields and body armor, were called in to assist Capitol Police in controlling the crowd. Some of the State Police officers wore green camouflage and carried rifles and canisters of tear gas (no tear gas was used, however). After being warned to vacate the south steps of the Capitol, police officers arrested 31 people — 14 men and 17 women — on charges ranging from unlawful assembly to trespassing, according to Capitol Police.”

Late last month Alabama Senator Linda Coleman told Rewire, “you can’t tell me forcing a probe into a woman’s vagina against her consent is anything but rape. You can put icing on it, dress it up, but this is the forced penetration of a woman’s vagina without her consent.”

Coleman was outraged over the introduction of the bill. Now that it has passed out of committee it moves to the full floor for debate and vote. 

Alabama media is rightfully honing in on one of SB12’s champion’s Senator Greg Reed. Reed supports SB12, and is also president of a medical device company that sells the equipment required by the bill.  

From an article last week in Rewire:  

Senator Coleman also said the committee Chairman, Senator Greg Reed is, conveniently, president of a company that makes ultrasound equipment. Senator Reed denies that his company, Preferred Medical Services, will profit at all from the state-sanctioned rape bill because, he says, his company doesn’t do business with abortion providers.  

A call to Preferred Medical Systems could not confirm if the organization sells to abortion providers or not.  The receptionist said she had “no idea” if the company has a policy barring the sale of its equipment to clinics that provide abortions.  However she said she would try to locate the right person to speak with for clarification on what Senator Reed says is company policy.  

When asked if the rally in Alabama had the potential to turn into a Virginia-like rally complete with police in SWAT gear, Posey said, “I imagine a police presence will be at our rally and I have no problem with that. We fully intend to stay for the duration of our permit and then disperse.”

Follow @andykopsa 

News Abortion

What If You Threw a Public Trans-vaginal Ultrasound Show And No One Attended?

Robin Marty

Well that's awkward.  Apparently lawmakers can legislate ultrasounds, but can't watch one.

Idaho senators passed a bill that would require all women to get at least one, if not two mandatory ultrasounds before obtaining an abortion.  The bill passed by a two-to-one margin, and is expected to do even better in the Republican dominated House.

Lawmakers are eager to assert that the bill isn’t about punishing women, or exponentially raising the cost of abortions.  No, it’s all about “information,” they argue, even if some of them aren’t even aware of what sort of ultrasounds are being performed or who will be providing them legally.

To “educate” the legislature on the issue, anti-choice activist and crisis pregnancy center owner Brandi Swindell arranged to perform live ultrasounds at the state house.  She surprisingly took the plunge and did in fact perform a transvaginal ultrasound on one of the women at the event.

Too bad hardly any of those who already voted for, or are preparing to vote for the mandatory ultrasound bill actually bothered to show up.

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According to the Associated Press, only a handful of over 100 invited lawmakers actually attended the ultrasound theater.  Their guess?  Maybe three.

If they can’t watch it, or say it,  what makes them think they should be allowed to legislate it?

Commentary Abortion

Idaho Senate Set to Vote On Forced Ultrasound Bill

Robin Marty

The Idaho Senate may vote as early as Monday, May 19th on a forced ultrasound bill despite the fact that its original author admitted he had no idea exactly what sort of ultrasound he was mandating, nor how women would pay for them. Opposition is building against it.

When Idaho Senator Chuck Winder proposed a bill that would force every woman to undergo a mandatory ultrasound prior to an abortion, he admitted two things: he had no idea exactly what sort of ultrasound he was mandating, and he had no idea how women would pay for them.

Neither issue has been cleared up in the final bill, but that hasn’t stopped it from passing through committee on a 7-2 vote, or being sent to the senate where it is expected to be voted on as early as Monday, March 19th.

Citizens rallied against the passage of the bill as it was heard in the judiciary committee.  One woman brought a petition signed by 4000 voters demanding that the law not pass.

Even the judiciary committee itself was divided. In testimony against the bill, expert witnesses underscored the problem with the government mandating an unnecessary medical procedure, pointed out that the cost of the unnecessary procedure would prove prohibitive to many women, and questioned the constitutionality of the bill. Experts also criticized the fact that in order to obtain a “free” ultrasound a woman would have to visit a crisis pregnancy center, the raison d’etre of which is to do anything–including lying to women–to talk them out of an abortion, but that ultrasounds performed in these centers wouldn’t meet the legal requirement anyway.

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Republican Senator Patti Ann Lodge highlighted the double standard of Idaho’s far right politicians who are fighting federal government health mandates while imposing their own, saying she was “concerned about the state mandating a procedure when we are also fighting against procedures that are placed upon us on the federal level.”

But the panel, including Lodge, passed the bill onto the senate, where it was supposed to be heard on Friday but got delayed.

Why the delay?  Could it be because even those senators who publicly support the bill, like Lodge, are feeling the pressure of actually passing what is becoming one of the most contentious abortion restrictions facing the nation?  Pennsylvania has already put their own vote on hold and a similar bill in Alabama has been dropped.

Whether the senate is getting cold feet due to public feedback, or due to the fact that the bill’s flaws are both copious and unaddressed, either way, it’s obvious that senators are not sold on legislating expensive, unnecessary and physically and emotionally intrusive medical procedure.

Legislators in Alabama and Pennsylvania have killed or tabled forced ultrasound bills because of the public outcry. You can act now to let Idaho legislators that forced ultrasounds will not be tolerated.  Below is information you need to tell these legislators what you think via email, Twitter, and Facebook. Tell them #NoForcedUltrasounds.

Bill Sponsor:

Sen. Chuck Winder

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Key Legislators:

Sen. Patti Ann Lodge

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Sen. Curt McKenzie – Committee Chair

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Sen. Shawn Keough

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Sen. Mitch Toryanski

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Sen. Tim Corder

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Sen. Dean Cameron

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Sen. Joyce Broadsword

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Sen. John Goedde

Legislative Office. (208) 332-1321
Legislative Fax. (208) 334-2680

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Sen. James Hammond

Sen. Dan Johnson

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Sen. Jim Rice

Sen. John Andreason

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FAX (208) 376-0455

Sen. Denton Darrington

Sen. Diane Bilyeu

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Sen. John Tippets

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Sen. Bart Davis