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Idaho seal
Not the most backward state
in the nation, today.
The Idaho House is taking a step back from forced ultrasounds. It's a reversal that is remarkable for those in this state who have watched our legislature, not just dominated by conservative Republicans but subsumed by them, barrel further and further to the right.

Earlier this week, the Senate passed the bill 23-12, with a handful of Republicans opposing it. The backlash was swift and loud. Loud enough that, this time, in the House, Republicans are wondering if they went too far. They're at the point of actually having to carefully consider the law they were proposing, and the opposition to it.

The Idaho Statesman's Dan Popkey does some fine reporting to tell how they got there.

After an extraordinary closed-door caucus late Wednesday, House GOP leaders canceled Thursday’s 7:45 a.m. hearing on Senate Bill 1387. [...]

A half-dozen members of State Affairs expressed concern in the private setting, including reliable conservatives such as Reps. Kathy Sims of Coeur d’Alene and Lynn Luker of Boise.

“Basically, I’m listening to constituents, and they aren’t just Democrats,” Luker said. “They’re Republicans, they’re from across the spectrum. That was No. 1.”

The legislators expressed actual fears of overreach, with some vestige of actual libertarian thought seemingly coming to the fore. Of course, as Popkey points out, there's also the fear of reelection, and having to run in newly redrawn districts. Many of these legislators have already raised the ire of constituents by passing a highly controversial and unpopular massive education reform bill last year. Some of those fears were punctuated by the entrance of a Democratic challenger (a rarity these days) to the bill's chief sponsor, Sen. Chuck Winder.

But also, there was this:

Another factor Wednesday was the spectacle of anti-abortion activist Brandi Swindell’s ultrasound demonstration, which was a topic of discussion when House Republicans met. [...]

Swindell ran the exhibition like a TV show, exclaiming, “Twins! Come on!” when two images appeared on large screens. She coaxed the names from the mom: Diego and Gianni. [...]

By the time Republicans convened privately at 4 p.m., the tumult had given many lawmakers cold feet, said Rep. Max Black, R-Boise, a State Affairs member.

“It was probably the most interesting caucus I’ve been in my 20 years here,” Black said. “I was quite surprised by the concerns raised from across the board.”

Black said his wife, Clydene, had never expressed her views to him on a bill in all those 20 years—until now. “By darn, she talked to me about this. She said, ‘I don’t understand how the Legislature thinks it can do this to women.’ ”

Another conservative, pro-life lawmaker said that he was actually concerned about further government intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship, because of his "pro-business" views. While reelection is undoubtedly the first thought in this lawmaker's mind, as well as most of his colleagues', it's refreshing to see these people thinking through the implications of their actions, and actually pausing. For Idaho, that's huge.

It's probably just a temporary reprieve; the legislation is tabled, not dead and could certainly rear it's ugly head next session. But for now, in this state, it's a win.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Mar 22, 2012 at 09:32 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos, Sluts, Pro Choice, and Abortion.

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