ByÂ JOHN MILLER ,Â Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Capitol was part medical clinic, part reality TV show and all cultural battlefield on Wednesday, as an anti-abortion advocate secured a basement meeting room to conduct live ultrasound procedures on six women before a mostly female audience of 150.
Some were ejected from the room by Idaho State Police troopers after interrupting activist Brandi Swindell’s descriptions of the ultrasound images shown on three projector screens.
Swindell, a Boise resident who briefly caused an international incident with her arrest in China for protesting abortion ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, hoped the event would help convince state lawmakers to support a bill that would require women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound first.
Currently, Idaho requires women seeking an abortion be given the option of an ultrasound. The House planned to take up the ultrasound mandate on Thursday. The measure has already passed the Senate, 23-12.
“How can anybody call this offensive?” Swindell said. “Who doesn’t love an ultrasound image of a baby?”
Foes say Republicans who typically espouse limited government are encroaching on the doctor’s office. They say the measure, Senate Bill 1387, is so extreme it provides no exceptions for medical emergencies, rape or incest.
“We just think it’s another way that people are playing politics with women’s health,” said Hannah Brass, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood in Idaho who attended the ultrasound exhibition.
“Victims of rape, women who have fetal anomalies wouldn’t love an ultrasound,” Brass added. “The difference between what happened today and what we’re talking about in the legislation is, the women today chose to have that ultrasound. The bill takes that decision away from them.”
For an hour and a half, Swindell guided the women lying on a table shielded from the crowd by a bamboo divider.
“Does this feel invasive at all?” she asked.
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