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

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News Abortion

Study: United States a ‘Stark Outlier’ in Countries With Legal Abortion, Thanks to Hyde Amendment

Nicole Knight Shine

The study's lead author said the United States' public-funding restriction makes it a "stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations."

The vast majority of countries pay for abortion care, making the United States a global outlier and putting it on par with the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and a handful of Balkan States, a new study in the journal Contraception finds.

A team of researchers conducted two rounds of surveys between 2011 and 2014 in 80 countries where abortion care is legal. They found that 59 countries, or 74 percent of those surveyed, either fully or partially cover terminations using public funding. The United States was one of only ten countries that limits federal funding for abortion care to exceptional cases, such as rape, incest, or life endangerment.

Among the 40 “high-income” countries included in the survey, 31 provided full or partial funding for abortion care—something the United States does not do.

Dr. Daniel Grossman, lead author and director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California (UC) San Francisco, said in a statement announcing the findings that this country’s public-funding restriction makes it a “stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations.”

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The researchers call on policymakers to make affordable health care a priority.

The federal Hyde Amendment (first passed in 1976 and reauthorized every year thereafter) bans the use of federal dollars for abortion care, except for cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Seventeen states, as the researchers note, bridge this gap by spending state money on terminations for low-income residents. Of the 14.1 million women enrolled in Medicaid, fewer than half, or 6.7 million, live in states that cover abortion services with state funds.

This funding gap delays abortion care for some people with limited means, who need time to raise money for the procedure, researchers note.

As Jamila Taylor and Yamani Hernandez wrote last year for Rewire, “We have heard first-person accounts of low-income women selling their belongings, going hungry for weeks as they save up their grocery money, or risking eviction by using their rent money to pay for an abortion, because of the Hyde Amendment.”

Public insurance coverage of abortion remains controversial in the United States despite “evidence that cost may create a barrier to access,” the authors observe.

“Women in the US, including those with low incomes, should have access to the highest quality of care, including the full range of reproductive health services,” Grossman said in the statement. “This research indicates there is a global consensus that abortion care should be covered like other health care.”

Earlier research indicated that U.S. women attempting to self-induce abortion cited high cost as a reason.

The team of ANSIRH researchers and Ibis Reproductive Health uncovered a bit of good news, finding that some countries are loosening abortion laws and paying for the procedures.

“Uruguay, as well as Mexico City,” as co-author Kate Grindlay from Ibis Reproductive Health noted in a press release, “legalized abortion in the first trimester in the past decade, and in both cases the service is available free of charge in public hospitals or covered by national insurance.”

News Abortion

Blackburn Punts on Next Steps in Anti-Choice Congressional Investigation

Christine Grimaldi

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) deflected questions about targeting later abortion care in her interview with Rewire.

What are the next steps for the U.S. House of Representatives investigation into a market of aborted “baby body parts” that according to all other accounts—three other congressional committees, 13 states, and a Texas grand jury—doesn’t exist?

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the chair of the so-called Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, said she had not decided on the topic of the next hearing, nor whether to subpoena the leader of the anti-choice front group fueling the investigation.

“We’ll have something that we’ll look at in September, but no decisions [yet],” Blackburn said in a July 14 interview with Rewire.

Blackburn’s remarks followed a press conference coinciding with the one-year anniversary of the first Center for Medical Progress (CMP) videos that still serve as the basis for the $1.2 million investigation.

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“We’re continuing to pursue [options], we have a tremendous amount of information that has come through to us through whistleblowers and individuals, so we’ll continue to work,” she said.

Congress adjourned for a seven-week recess the day after Blackburn presented House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) with the panel’s interim update, which repeats many of the same widely discredited allegations from CMP and other anti-choice groups cited in the document.

The panel will release a final report by the end of the year. That’s the only definitive next step in an investigation that started with allegedly falsified evidence of fetal tissue trafficking and pivoted in recent months to later abortion care, including subpoenaing a prominent provider and calling for a state-level criminal investigation of a university and abortion clinic supposedly in collusion.

Blackburn would not commit to subpoenaing David Daleiden, the CMP leader under felony indictment in Texas and the subject of lawsuits in California. Republicans’ interim update called Daleiden an “investigative journalist,” even though more than two dozen of the nation’s preeminent journalists and journalism scholars recently filed an amicus brief explaining why that isn’t so in the federal court case between CMP and the National Abortion Federation.

“I think it’s inappropriate to predetermine any decisions,” Blackburn said about the possibility of a Daleiden appearance before the panel. “We’re an investigative panel. We’re going go where the facts take us.”

The interim update indicates that the investigation will continue to focus on later abortion care. Blackburn, however, deflected questions about targeting later abortion care in her interview with Rewire.

Blackburn seemingly walked back the pledge she made at a faith-based conference last month to pursue contempt of Congress charges for “middle men” and their suppliers—“big abortion”—who she alleged have not cooperated with her subpoenas. Blackburn’s panel spokesperson previously told Rewire that the panel required the names of those involved in fetal tissue transactions and research in order to understand how things work.

Democrats have repeatedly objected to the subpoenas, escalating their concerns after Blackburn initially failed to redact researchers’ names and contact information in her call for a federal abortion inquiry.

“We’re going to pursue getting the truth and delivering a report that is factual, that is truthful, and can be utilized by the authorizing committees,” Blackburn said in response to a question about the contempt charges at the press conference.

Blackburn and her fellow Republicans had no such reservations about going after Democrats on the panel.  They accused Democrats of furnishing subpoena recipients with a memo to subvert requests for information. The final pages of the interim update includes a chart alleging the extent to which various organizations, hospitals, procurement companies, abortion providers, and others have or have not complied with the subpoenas.

Emails obtained by Rewire show a Democratic staffer refuting such accusations last month. Democrats produced their own status update for members, not a memo advising noncompliance for subpoena recipients, the staffer said in a June email to a Republican counterpart on the panel.