News Abortion

Idaho’s Forced “Double Ultrasound” Bill Passes Senate, Heads For House

Robin Marty

The senate voted for the flawed, forced ultrasound bill, 23 to 12.

Despite strongly stated aversion to government intrusion and the health care mandage in the Affordable Care Act, the Idaho Senate today voted nearly two to one to pass a bill to require women to pay out-of-pocket for expensive, medically-unnecessary ultrasounds in order to terminate a pregnancy.

Via The Associated Press:

Idaho senators approved a measure requiring all women to undergo a fetal ultrasound before terminating a pregnancy. Monday’s 23-12 vote sends the bill to the House.

The bill seems likely to pass the House, where Republican legislators outnumber Democratic legislators 57 to 13. Without a veto from Republican Governor Butch Otter, women in the state will be provided with a list of “free ultrasounds” at pregnancy centers that will attempt to talk them out of having abortions, then still be forced to undergo expensive ultrasounds performed at an actual clinic before terminating a pregnancy.

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You can contact Gov. Otter via facebook or twitter and tell him what you think about forcing women to under mandatory ultrasounds.

News Science

‘Fraudulent’ Bill Criminalizing Fetal Tissue Donations Heads to Idaho Governor

Nicole Knight Shine

Democratic legislators staged a boycott of the legislation, refusing to attend a committee meeting where the anti-choice bill was set to be heard.

A Republican-backed bill to criminalize the “sale, transfer, distribution or other unlawful disposition” of fetal tissue derived from abortion care is headed to the desk of Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R).

The GOP measure is based on a series of widely discredited videos published by an anti-choice front group known as the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), the leaders of which have been indicted on felony and misdemeanor charges related to the group’s smear campaign against Planned Parenthood.

The “Unborn Infants Dignity Act,” SB 1404, outlaws research performed on “bodily remains or embryonic stem cells” derived from abortion care, including scientific work conducted by Idaho colleges and universities that receive public money.

Violators could face criminal penalties as high as five years in prison, a fine up to $10,000, or both.

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SB 1404 passed in the state senate last week in a party-line vote, and cleared the house in a 54-14 vote, with Rep. Fred Wood (R-Burley), a doctor, joining Democratic lawmakers in opposition.

Democratic members of the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday staged a boycott of the legislation, refusing to attend a committee meeting where the anti-choice bill was set to be heard, as the Spokesman-Review reported.

Four Democrats said in a statement provided to Rewire:

As the Democratic members of the House State Affairs Committee, we collectively chose to abstain from participating in today’s hearing of a bill because it is beneath our dignity, it is beneath the dignity of our constituents, and it is not worthy of our time or attention.

The bill before the committee today is a “fraud.” It is fraudulent to use our time here to run special interest bills that are bad public policy. This bill, like many others introduced this session, is designed to inflame a small constituency that these politicians count on to vote for them. That’s campaigning on the public dime.

The anti-choice group Idaho Chooses Life supports the law, which is copycat legislation that the national anti-choice group Americans United for Life is advancing at the state level in GOP strongholds.

Introducing the legislation last week in the house, Rep. Brent Crane (R-Nampa) referenced the surreptitiously recorded videos from CMP that purported to show Planned Parenthood officials participating in the illegal sale of fetal tissue.

Twenty states have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing or declined to investigate, as has Idaho’s governor, who rejected a request by nearly 30 Republican lawmakers to investigate the health-care organization.

Planned Parenthood operates clinics in Boise, Meridian, and Twin Falls, but does not offer a fetal tissue donation program in the state, said Hannah Brass Greer, Idaho legislative director of Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, who spoke with Rewire in a phone interview.

“It’s clear that the proponents of this bill are part of the same group of people … that have been behind the attacks nationwide against Planned Parenthood,” Brass Greer said. “Even though Planned Parenthood has done nothing wrong … they continue to move forward because no matter what, they oppose safe and legal abortion.”

As Rewire has reported, “[f]ederal law regulates the use of fetal tissue for research or transplant, and as far as federal statutes go, this one is pretty clear. It’s a crime for anyone to buy or sell fetal tissue for profit. It is not a crime to donate and transfer that tissue for research or transplant into another organism or tissue.”

“Donating any tissue or organ for research or transplant is an expensive process,” Rewire Vice President of Law and the Courts Jessica Mason Pieklo added, “which is why the [federal] law specifically states those involved may make and receive ‘reasonable payments associated with the transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, or storage of human fetal tissue.’”

Addressing the house on Thursday, Minority Leader John Rusche (D-Lewiston), who practiced pediatrics for 16 years, said he’d seen some people in his practice who chose to donate the organs of fetuses that were aborted because the fetuses would not have survived outside of the womb. He said the legislation would make this illegal, as reported.

Rep. Mat Erpelding (D-Boise) grew emotional as he told lawmakers that he would have donated the organs of his stillborn fetus to save someone else.

“Running legislation on innuendo and passion is one thing,” Erpelding continued, as reported. “Potentially harming the opportunity to save another child’s life because of a point that’s trying to be made is wrong.”

Otter has until April 1 to sign or veto the bill. If he fails to do either, it will automatically become law. The governor has a record of signing anti-choice restrictions.

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.”