Guest Opinions

Idaho’s ultrasound law, politicians’ portrayal of it both despicable disservices

The misinformation campaign against reproductive health care and Planned Parenthood must stop.

Recently, Idaho Rep. Ronald Nate, R-Rexburg, misled readers to distract from the fact that he and politicians like him are invading the privacy of Idaho women and forcing the medical community to provide medically inaccurate information.

Rep. Nate and his fellow Republican colleagues pushed for Idaho’s new ultrasound information law that places unnecessary barriers on women. This law requires that the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare direct women seeking abortions to facilities that provide free ultrasounds.

And it gets worse. The ultrasound information law lists “limited service pregnancy centers,” whose sole purpose is to persuade women not to have an abortion.

Idaho’s Health and Welfare Department understands this well and included a substantial disclaimer on the list of facilities, alerting women that this list of “providers” may not be medical providers and that the department cannot stand behind them.

Because Nate is trying to play doctor and interfere with a woman’s right to accurate information, our own Department of Health and Welfare is now forced to direct women to facilities they cannot vouch for.

Other qualified medical providers, such as Planned Parenthood, are now forced to share this list filled with misinformation to our patients, contrary to sound and ethical medical practices. I doubt very much that Nate would want a medical referral unless his physician could vouch for the quality and competence of the referral.

When a woman is making a decision about her pregnancy, she needs timely access to medically accurate information. Sending women to one of these “providers” will only delay medical care and put a woman’s health at risk.

Nate also spread misinformation about Planned Parenthood’s services. We provide gestational dating ultrasounds to any woman who wants one, not just women who have chosen an abortion. It is a gross mischaracterization to say that women pay $250 in out-of-pocket costs for an ultrasound. We never turn away a patient for inability to pay, and we offer many payment options to ensure a woman gets the care she needs and deserves. We also take insurance, like all legitimate health care providers.

Rep. Nate, and others like him, will make claims that legitimate women’s health providers such as Planned Parenthood are trying to block women from receiving information. That is false. We provide a full range of reproductive health care and counsel patients on their full range of options. If supporters of this law were truly interested in giving women all of the information they need, they would not have vehemently opposed amendments requiring the department to vet facilities for medical accuracy.

So let’s stop politicians from telling us what to do with our bodies. It’s insulting that Nate and these politicians think we’re incapable of making our own decisions.

Hannah Brass Greer is Idaho legislative director & public affairs manager, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii.