Controversial ultrasound bill stops in Idaho House

Credit: Deren Martinez/KTVB

Controversial ultrasound bill stops in Idaho House

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by Andrea Lutz

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBandrealutz

KTVB.COM

Posted on March 22, 2012 at 10:29 AM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 10:41 AM

BOISE -- The Idaho Legislature is stalled on what could very well be the defining issue of the 2012 legislative session: ultrasounds before abortion.

For days, the conversation has been ongoing:  should Idaho require a woman to view an ultrasound image of her fetus before getting an abortion?  Furthermore, should authorities require a more invasive "trans-vaginal" ultrasound for women in the very early stages of pregnancy?

On Wednesday, movement of a bill addressing the issue was halted when Rep. Tom Loertscher, Chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, canceled a hearing set for Thursday.

“I thought it was the better part of valor to call the meeting off tomorrow so we can wait until we have all the information we need,” Loertscher said.

The bill cleared the Senate Monday but before it could land in the House, Loertscher pulled it from the agenda.

“My personal feeling is that there has been a lot of misinformation by the press and by others about what the effect of the legislation was and I think in order for it to move forward some of that needs to be cleared up,” Loertscher said.

So far, Idaho's controversial bill has garnered much local and national attention.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Chuck Winder, has been blasted on dozens of national blog sites and cable news channels for a highly controversial comment he made on Monday.  Some say Winder's remark suggested women might use rape as an excuse to get an abortion.

Then on Wednesday morning, Boise Rep. Cherie Buckner-Webb appeared on MSNBC to echo the words of those offended by the comments and the bill.

“I don't think it's good legislation, I think it's an intrusion of a woman.  I think it's very unfortunate legislation.  I would prefer that it did not come to fruition,” Buckner-Webb said.

However, lawmakers say just because the Thursday hearing has been canceled, doesn't mean the bill is dead.  That fact has the bill's proponents holding onto hope.

Those who support the bill include six pregnant women who underwent voluntary ultrasounds in the Statehouse hearing room on Wednesday.

Rep. Janice McGeachin from Idaho Falls supported the demonstration.

"For women, knowledge is power," McGeachin said.  "Back in the early 2000s is when we started working on getting information available for women on this very important medical procedure."

Yet, as the end of the 2012 legislative session draws near, it appears the future of the ultrasound bill falls under the direction of the Idaho House of Representatives and Loertscher.

“Ultimately the decision would be mine, but only after consultation with everybody that is involved in the legislation,” Loertscher said.

Loertscher went on to say the bill could reappear in the next few days.

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