When I wrote my story yesterday about the backlash to the War on Women, I added that this has not fully translated into political power yet. So far the victories have been largely defensive actions, and they’ve been scattered. In conservative states, the war continues mostly unchecked. I cited the passage of a mandatory ultrasound bill in the Idaho State Senate as an example.
I didn’t then know how much of a bellweather that Idaho legislation would be. It turns out, according to RH Reality Check, that public outcry against the bill may actually kill it – in Idaho, of all places:
The bill became a political hand-grenade after bill sponsor Sen. Chuck Winder admitted that his sole reason for introducing it was to stop women from having abortions by whatever means necessary. Criticism of Winder began to escalate as he used his closing remarks during the senate vote to claim women with “rape issues” might lie to get abortions [...]
According to Betsy Russell at the Spokesman Review, Republican legislators then ended up in a drawn-out, closed-door caucus, while sources in the capitol began announcing that the hearing, which was planned for tomorrow, was canceled.
“House Assistant Minority Leader Elfreda Higgins, D-Garden City, said 10 minutes ago, House State Affairs Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, came to her office and told her that tomorrow morning’s hearing on the pre-abortion ultrasound bill, SB 1387, has been canceled and the committee won’t hear the bill – which would mean it’s dead,” Russell reported.
There’s no guarantee yet, but it appears that the bill will run out of time after being booted off the calendar.
The scene in the Idaho legislature yesterday turned completely bizarre, when one anti-abortion activist started conducting ultrasounds to a live audience. The only people ejected from the room by state troopers were protesters, rather than the participants in this theatrical performance. “Who doesn’t love an ultrasound image of a baby?” said Brandi Swindell, the activist who orchestrated the event.
But women forced into medically unnecessary procedures do find it invasive, especially when it’s deployed to humiliate them. And the Idaho legislature – Idaho! – may have listened and took heed.
I consider this a step forward in the backlash. It remains a defensive action, but if ultrasound legislation can get stopped in a conservative state like Idaho, it should spell trouble for any legislature in the country. And before long, activists can pivot from defense to offense, not only getting similar anti-abortion legislation repealed, but expanding access to this legal medical procedure. That’s a long way off, but this backlash, led by a new generation of women’s rights activists, has occurred with startling rapidity so far.