An influential anti-abortion group and GOP lawmakers decided to pull a controversial mandatory ultrasound bill from the Idaho House of Representatives on Tuesday over what it called "misconceptions" about the legislation.
“Due to misconceptions about SB 1387, the complexity of this issue, and the lack of time left in the session, we have decided to pull Senate Bill 1387 to work on concerns with plans to bring it back next year,” said Jason Herring, president of the group, Right to Life of Idaho, in a press release.
Hundreds of people marched around the Idaho Capitol on Monday in silent protest of the bill, which would require women to have an ultrasound before getting an abortion and did not include exceptions for rape, incest or pregnancy complications. If the woman seeking an abortion was not far enough along in her pregnancy to determine the fetus' age through a regular transabdominal ultrasound, the doctor would be required to perform an invasive transvaginal ultrasound procedure in order to fulfill the requirements of the informed consent law.
House State Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Loertscher (R-Iona) said on Tuesday that the mandatory ultrasound procedure could present a big enough legal problem for the state that it could cause a court to throw out Idaho's existing informed consent laws.
“The whole issue was clouded because of the mandatory procedure, and that seemed to be the stumbling block,” he said.
Opponents of the bill also objected to the fact that that it would require the government to provide women a list of organizations where they could receive free ultrasounds. In Idaho, such a list would be almost entirely comprised of unregulated, Christian-run organizations, known as crisis pregnancy centers, that critics charge exist solely to talk women out of having abortions.
House Minority Leader John Rusche (D-Lewiston) called the measure "terrible medicine, terrible public policy and an assault on personal freedom." Its proponents, he added, had relented because they "recognized that when you kick the bee hive, bees come out."
But the president of Right to Life Idaho implied in his statement that the group plans to bring a new version of the bill up again next year.
"Women cannot make a fully informed decision if they are kept in the dark about the reality, visibility, and humanity of the life growing and developing within their womb," Herring said. "This debate is far from over."