State bills to require pre-abortion ultrasound procedures initially looked like another successful weapon in the arsenal of anti-choicers determined to make abortions as difficult to obtain as possible until such times as they can be outlawed. But now this ploy seems to be backfiring, politically and perhaps legally. And in one very conservative state, Idaho, legislation was actually abandoned by anti-choicers unhappy with bad publicity and with potential challeges in the courts. As Laura Bassett reported at HuffPost:

“Due to misconceptions about SB 1387, the complexity of this issue, and the lack of time left in the session, we have decided to pull Senate Bill 1387 to work on concerns with plans to bring it back next year,” said Jason Herring, president of the group, Right to Life of Idaho, in a press release.

That’s lobbyist-speak for “strategic retreat,” and probably reflects the national thinking of RTLers, who took a real pounding in VA on the very brink of victory, forcing their important ally Gov. Bob McDonnell to modify the bill before signing it to remove a requirement for highly intrusive transvaginal ultrasounds in cases of early-term abortions.

As Feministing notes today, anti-choicers in Idaho and elsewhere may follow Virginia’s example next year, getting back on track by steering clear of requiring procedures that bear an unsettling legal, physical and psychologial resemblence to rape.

All in all, though, this year’s experiences on ultrasound legislation threw some unexpected sand into the gears of what was beginning to look, after the 2010 elections, like an unstoppable force in Republican-controlled state legislatures around the country.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.