Idaho’s health agency is now legally obliged to post a list of places where women can receive free ultrasounds. While seemingly harmless — if not beneficial — the new requirement is actually deeply rooted in the state’s fiercely anti-abortion legislature.
We’re not saying this is going to be a great ultrasound experience
The list, posted on the state’s health department website, is geared toward women seeking abortions. However, every single facility listed is a anti-abortion advocacy center. Often called “crisis pregnancy centers” or CPCs, these centers often lack medically-trained staff and are tied to religious organizations. CPCs are known for attracting women seeking an abortion with their promise of a free ultrasound, but then attempt to convince women out of an abortion by using nonscientific “data” and thinly-veiled guilt-tripping.
Now, Idaho will help CPCs continue to their one-sided mission.
Anti-abortion state lawmakers appeared to applaud the bill specifically for its ability to control women’s decision-making. “This informs the mother that the ‘piece of tissue’ inside her has hands, feet, eyes, looks like a baby and has a heartbeat,” said state Rep. Heather Scott.
Idaho’s health agency has not inspected or certified any of the centers on the list. Republican members of the GOP-led legislature ignored demands by its Democratic members to confirm the listed providers offered medically accurate information. However, state law does require women recieve an ultrasound prior to obtaining an abortion. At the very bottom of the list, an italicized note reminds readers: “This information is notintended to constitute medical advice or the provision of medical services.”
“Adding that language was a way to let people know that we’re not saying this is going to be a great ultrasound experience,” Niki Forbing-Orr, spokeswomen for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, told the Associated Press. “There’s no registry for this type of equipment in Idaho. Anyone can own and operate one.”http://thinkprogress.org/health/2016/03/28/3763196/cpc-ca-lawsuits/Which makes it easy for any anti-abortion agency to get noticed. The state agency provides other information on abortion alongside this new list on its website, including a link to another state law recognizing “that the medical, emotional and psychological consequences of abortion and childbirth are serious and can be lasting, particularly when the patient is immature.”
Ultrasound providers can request to be included on this list, but their services must be free. Planned Parenthood clinics were not considered for the list since they don’t offer free ultrasounds. None of the centers listed are required to tell patients where they can actually obtain an abortion.
Idaho joins a handful of other anti-abortion state governments in requiring some type of information on free ultrasounds. State law also bans public insurance coverage of abortion costs (except for extreme cases), requires parents to consent to a minor’s abortion, and forces women to wait 24 hours after consulting a doctor about an abortion to actually obtain the procedure.