After nearly two hours of debate and strong emotions, the Senate Monday voted 23-12 in favor of Senate Bill 1387, which would require women to have an ultrasound before terminating a pregnancy.
The legislation now moves to the House for consideration.
Much of the debate focused on victims of rape and incest, which is a common debate theme for those in favor of allowing abortion. Though, the debate surrounding rape and incest for this discussion was about victims being “punished” for a second time.
Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, said “The absence of an exclusion for victims of rape, incest or medical emergency disturbs me. A mandated medical procedure would be a second assault on these victims.”
Stennett also said the mandate would put doctors in a bad position. “You also force physicians to choose between saving a life and violating state law, according to the attorney general.”
For a Legislature that continually harps on government intrusion and not believing in mandates, this bill sure seemed to go against that rhetoric, according to Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d’Alene.
Hammond was very outspoken against the bill, saying that this mandate would drive up the costs of insurance. He also said the decision for a procedure shouldn’t be mandated. “I have a concern that here we’re intruding in an area that belongs between the physician, the patient, and maybe that patient’s clergy.”
Hammond then seemed to call out his fellow Republican senators, saying “… no one should be required to have a medical procedure they don’t wish to receive,” and that “I hope this bill isn’t just another litmus test to prove that you’re truly a conservative.”
But proponents of the bill said it was good legislation and seemed to turn the debate into an issue of the right to life.
Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, who sponsored the bill, noted in his closing remarks that soldiers who have fought for this country have had their lives cut short. “Each person has a life story. Those were cut short. Let's not choose to cut others short.”
Winder also said that it is in the interest of the state to get involved with this issue, saying, “I believe the state does have an interest in the life of the unborn. That's what the debate's about. Does it add cost? Yes, it does. I would just ask you to consider the pricelessness of the unborn.”
Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, also supported the legislation, but said in her explanation of her “yes” vote that she encouraged legislators to get involved with their communities and to “encourage young girls to set goals and desires for a journey through life, filled with joy, not regrets, for unwise decisions that negatively affect their lives.”
Lodge concluded by saying, “Because I support the unborn, I will be voting aye.”