News Abortion

Idaho “Double Ultrasound” Bill Passes Senate Panel

Robin Marty

Despite a lack of resolving the issue of offering free ultrasounds that don't comply with the law, an Idaho senate committee is sending the bill for a full vote.

The Idaho legislature still hasn’t decided whether or not a “free” ultrasound provided by a crisis pregnancy center will count as a legally required ultrasound under their proposed bill, but that hasn’t stopped a senate panel from passing the legislation anyway.

Via the Northwestern.com:

Idaho stepped closer to requiring women to have an ultrasound of their fetus before terminating a pregnancy, a measure anti-abortion advocates hope will convince more women to opt against such a procedure.

Boise Sen. Chuck Winder’s legislation cleared the Senate State Affairs Committee Wednesday on a 7-2 vote, with Republicans favoring it and Democrats voting against.

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Winder has made it clear that although he knows the bill will likely add a large expense to obtaining an abortion in Idaho, and that his “solution” for providing free ultrasounds won’t actually solve the legal or financial issue, it doesn’t matter since the point of the law is to stop women from having abortions. If she decides to pursue the termination anyway, she should be forced to pay an extra $200 to do it.

The bill will next be voted on by the full senate.  We will see how many other senators are have the same opinion as Winder.

News Abortion

Idaho GOP Advances Copycat Bill Banning Fetal Tissue Donation

Nicole Knight Shine

The measure requires abortion providers to turn over fetal remains to the patient upon request and obligates the state to issue fetal death certificates in cases of miscarriage.

Idaho Republicans are backing a multipronged approach to outlaw fetal tissue donation after abortion procedures and prohibit state-supported universities from conducting research on tissue derived from the procedure.

The senate State Affairs Committee introduced the bill from state Sen. Cliff Bayer (R-Boise) on a party line vote. Republicans hold a majority in the committee and control both chambers of the Idaho legislature.

Idaho’s Planned Parenthood affiliates don’t conduct fetal tissue donation, said Hannah Brass Greer, Idaho legislative director of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii. “[N]o such practice exists” in the state, according to an Associated Press report.

Among its provisions, SB 1349 requires abortion providers to turn over fetal remains to the patient upon request and obligates the state to issue fetal death certificates in cases of miscarriage. Violators would face criminal penalties of up to five years in prison, $10,000 in fines, and a one-year license suspension.

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The anti-choice group Idaho Chooses Life proposed the bill, a copycat of the “Unborn Infants Dignity Act” by the national anti-choice legislation mill known as Americans United for Life (AUL). The Idaho GOP bill adds a new section to state law to declare: “It continues to be the public policy of the state of Idaho to promote live childbirth over abortion.”

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin and Ohio are advancing similar AUL-drafted measures, while Indiana and Arkansas legislators passed versions of the copycat bill last year.

David Ripley of Idaho Chooses Life, addressing Idaho lawmakers, referenced the widely discredited hidden camera footage from the anti-choice front group called the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). The footage was edited to suggest Planned Parenthood broke the law by selling fetal tissue.

Republican legislators have worked in coordination with CMP officials since the summer to cut Planned Parenthood’s funding. Now, 12 states have cleared the health-care provider of allegations of wrongdoing, and CMP’s ringleaders face felony charges.

SB 1349 also would “[p]rohibit all Idaho institutions of higher education that receive public moneys from engaging in medical research using organs or tissue, including human embryonic stem cells, obtained from aborted infants.”

Brass Greer of Planned Parenthood said the bill would “place unnecessary restrictions on potentially life-saving research.”

“SB 1349 is clearly based on last year’s discredited and heavily biased videos targeting women who donated fetal tissue to medical research in other states,” Greer told Rewire in an emailed statement.

Planned Parenthood officials have said the organization operates fetal tissue donation programs in two statesCalifornia and Washington.

Two Democrats on the committee voted against the bill. State Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb (D-Boise) pointed out that SB 1349 requires changes to Idaho death certificate procedures and asked Ripley whether he had consulted with the state Bureau of Vital Statistics, as the Spokesman-Review reported. Ripley said he hadn’t.

State Sen. Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum) noted that current law permits adults to donate their organs, tissue, or remains after death.

The Republican-led committee last week introduced a bill requiring abortion providers to hand out a list of locations, compiled by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, where an abortion patient can get a free ultrasound. Opponents of the measure fear the locations will be mostly crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), which are often staffed by anti-choice activists who deceive pregnant people about their options.

News Abortion

Kentucky’s Senate Republicans Advance Forced Ultrasound Bill

Jenn Stanley

A Planned Parenthood representative believes that pressure to hold onto their majority during March special elections could lead many Kentucky Democrats in the state house to vote in favor of the GOP's anti-choice laws.

Republicans in the Kentucky state senate last week continued to push their anti-choice agenda, this time with a measure that would require doctors to perform an ultrasound and describe the image to people seeking abortion care.

The Senate Standing Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection voted 11-1 on Thursday to approve SB 152, which is the latest anti-choice policy to move easily through the GOP-dominated chamber.

The move is one more step toward Republicans’ agenda designed to “send a message to voters” regarding their commitment to passing anti-choice policies.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Whitney Westerfield (R-Hopkinsville), said that while the bill does not require the person seeking the abortion to watch the image, the doctor must describe what the image shows. The doctor performing the abortion must perform the ultrasound, and failure to do so would result in a $100,000 penalty for the first offense and $250,000 for subsequent offenses.

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“This bill really interferes with the doctor-patient relationship by allowing politicians to determine medical practices over the wishes of the provider and patient,” Tamarra Wieder, director of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, told Rewire. “It also creates complications and barriers for providers. A lot of providers are only in the clinic for one day a week or two days a week for the procedure, not ultrasounds.”

Similar bills have been struck down in North Carolina and Oklahoma, according to Wieder.

Derek Selznick, the Reproductive Freedom Project director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, has been a vocal critic of the wave of anti-choice bills in the state’s legislature. He told the Courier-Journal that this bill “is not informed consent.”

“This is about politicians trying to bully, shame and humiliate women who have already made their personal and often heart-wrenching decision to end their pregnancy,” Selznick said.

The bill now moves to the full state senate for vote, where it’s expected to pass. It’s unclear what its fate will be in the house, where Democrats are trying to hold onto their 50-46 majority as they face four special elections in March.

The GOP’s forced ultrasound bill was approved the same day that outspoken anti-choice Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed the informed consent bill that recently passed after Democrats in the house updated it to include the option for real-time video counseling, rather than just in-person counseling. It was the first bill sought by abortion rights opponents in 12 years that overcame opposition in the Kentucky house, Bevin told a crowd the day of the signing.

Wieder believes that pressure to hold onto their majority during the special elections could lead many Democrats in the house to vote in favor of the GOP’s anti-choice laws.

“We have heard rumblings that abortion will be thrown under the bus for other progressive issues,” Wieder told Rewire. Wieder added that Kentuckians need to stay more informed about and involved in the state government.

“I think a lot of people don’t know what’s going on, and the rights that they have that are being taken away,” Wieder said. “People haven’t spoken up and out against bills that would trample their rights. Getting your voice out there and talking to your representatives is critically important.”