By Dave Andrusko
Pro-life Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter this week signed a bill that makes Idaho the 14th state to require that a pregnant woman be told where she can get a free ultrasound.
On March 1, the Idaho House passed HB 516 by an overwhelming margin of 56-13, with only one Democrat supporting the measure. The Idaho Senate followed suit on March 17, passing the bill by an equally lop-sided 28-7 vote. No Democrat voted in favor in the Senate.
HB 516 builds on a 2007 informed consent law which required abortion facilities that use ultrasound equipment to inform the pregnant mother she has the option of viewing the ultrasound and obtaining a picture of her unborn baby.
Under the new law, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare will compile a list of providers that offer free ultrasounds for women seeking abortions. “The list would be part of the informed consent brochures abortion providers are required to distribute,” the Associated Press reported.
The department already provides a list of other resources to pregnant women.
“This bill will only empower women more,” said state Rep. Heather Scott. “This informs the mother that the ‘piece of tissue’ inside her has hands, feet, eyes, looks like a baby and has a heartbeat.”
To critics who argued the measure restricts “choice,” Bill sponsor state Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll said HB 516 “does not limit choice. It just enhances choice. Ultrasounds are truly a window to the womb.”
“This legislation protects the mother’s right to see her unborn child in real-time ultrasound,” says Mary Spaulding Balch, JD, director of NRL’s Department of State Legislation. “The decision to have an abortion is such a major one, having potential ramifications not only on the life of the unborn child, but also on the physical and psychological health of the mother, and it is only right and proper that the state guarantee the mother access to information before making this life-changing decision.”
The use of ultrasound is the norm, not the exception. An abortion clinic in Idaho has confirmed on its website that it performs ultrasounds prior to the performance of an abortion. (The cost is included in the price of the abortion.) The National Abortion Federation recommends ultrasound use prior to an abortion.