Last week I testified against a bill in the Idaho legislature that would require health care providers to inform women that they can receive “free” ultrasounds before they get abortions. This bill does nothing to pay for those ultrasounds, so it is an unfunded mandate. It doesn’t require doctors to offer the ultrasounds either, but it will fine the doctors if they don’t tell the women that there are clinics where they can get them. It also doesn’t seem to require any particular levels of accreditation or training to become one of these “free” ultrasound clinics. You just need to contact the State Dept. of Health and Welfare and ask to be put on the list of ultrasound providers. (You can read the bill here).
It came out in the testimony for the bill that Focus on the Family pays for ultrasound machines and for ultrasonography training. They’ve been doing this for 12 years now. Women may think they are receiving a ‘free’ procedure, when in fact, they are being funneled to clinics whose existence is to convince women NOT to do the procedure they have decided is the right decision for them.
Representative Ron Nate, when presenting the Bill, likened it to getting an X-ray when you break your arm, or other medical procedures. He referred to “informed consent” so women could make good health care decisions. Of course, Rep. Nate has voted against expanding Idaho’s Medicaid coverage, which would allow more people to access the diagnostic tests required for everyone to make good medical decisions.
It’s only women making their own health care choices who need governmental intrusion, apparently, in order to make good decisions.
He said providing ultrasound information shows “true trust in women” and “to deny women this information is paternalistic,” he said.
If anti-choice legislators really trusted women, they would let them make their own decisions, and trust that women have the ability to make a difficult decision without the intervention of the legislature, which already intervenes quite a bit.
In Idaho, the following restrictions on abortion were in effect as of December 1, 2015:
- A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.
- Abortion is covered in private insurance policies only in cases of life endangerment, unless an optional rider is purchased at an additional cost.
- Health plans that will be offered in the state’s health exchange under the Affordable Care Act can only cover abortion in cases when the woman’s life is endangered, rape or incest.
- Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment, unless an optional rider is purchased at an additional cost.
- The use of telemedicine for the performance of medication abortion is prohibited.
- The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided.
- Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
Additionally, women must receive a copy of this brochure, which opens with:
“The Supreme Court of the United States having held … that the states have a “profound interest” in preserving the life of pre-born children, Idaho hereby expresses the fundamental importance of that “profound interest” and it is herby declared to be the public policy of this state that all state statutes, rules and constitutional provisions shall be interpreted to prefer, by all legal means, live childbirth over abortion.” Idaho Code § 18-601
Idaho does not trust women to make their own decisions about their own health. Idaho does not trust women to talk to their own families, clergy, doctors, and friends when needing to make a difficult decision. Idaho does not trust women to make an informed decision about a legal and constitutionally protected medical procedure.
When I testified against the bill, I told the panel:
“As a woman who faced an unplanned pregnancy back when I was in college, let me guarantee you that I did not need an ultrasound to know I was facing a difficult decision. I did not need to be sent to a ‘crisis pregnancy center’ to tell me what to think. I spoke with the father of the child, with my parents, with my doctor, with my pastor, and with my close friends, to make the right decision for me.
I received compassionate and affordable care at a Planned Parenthood clinic. I chose, and let me emphasize how grateful I was to live in a country that protected my choice, I chose to place my son for adoption.
Women are competent and capable to make our own best decisions for our health care choices.”
Pay attention when you vote. Do your elected representatives believe you are smart enough to be trusted to make our own decisions about your health?
Do they vote to un-fund programs that offer birth control, cancer screenings, and routine medical care?
Do they try to restrict your access to health care, to a livable wage, to affordable child care and early childhood education for your children?
Show them they can trust you to make smart decisions. And vote them out of office.
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