Texas Ultrasound Ruling Blasted by Perry, Pro-Life Groups

State   Steven Ertelt   Aug 31, 2011   |   11:13AM    Washington, DC

Texas officials say they will appeal a judge’s ruling late Tuesday striking down a new law the state approved allowing women considering an abortion a chance to see the ultrasound the abortion center does of their unborn baby.

Meanwhile, two leading pro-life groups and pro-life Gov. Rick Perry responded to the judge’s decision and say they are not happy about it.

As LifeNews reported, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks issued an injunction in advance of the September 1 date the law is supposed to go into effect. He ruled in a two-page order that parts of the state’s new sonogram law are unconstitutional and prevented Texas officials from issuing any fines or penalties against abortion practitioners who do not follow the law while the lawsuit continues.

Judge Sparks claimed Texas has no right to tell abortion practitioners they should allow women a chance to see an ultrasound of an abortion — even though one is typically done to determine the age of the baby at the time of the abortion. Judge Sparks also claimed the law is supposedly vague and contradictory and makes it so abortion practitioners who think they are following the law could be running afoul of it.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott plans to appeal the decision and Governor Perry, who is a Republican presidential candidate, called the ruling a “great disappointment to all Texans who stand in defense of life.”

“Every life lost to abortion is a tragedy,” he said in a statement.

Joe Pojman of Texas Alliance for Life, was one of two pro-life leaders to respond to the decision, along with Elizabeth Graham of Texas Right to Life.

“We are disappointed,” Pojman said. “The intent is to raise the standard of care for informed consent for abortion to the level of any other medical or surgical procedure. We believe this case will be appealed to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which will allow it to be fully enforced. Until then, women considering abortion will not have the full benefit of the protections intended by the Legislature and Governor Perry.”

Graham told LifeNews:  “Texas Right to Life and Senator Patrick worked alongside each other for five years on the sonogram bill to protect a woman’s right to informed consent before an abortion.  In his ruling, Judge Sparks accuses both the plaintiffs and defendants of waging an ideological war in his court room, yet he had done exactly that by enjoining the main points of the sonogram law.  The sonogram law is a common sense piece of legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick and Representative Sid Miller to ensure that women receive all the medical facts prior to making a life-changing decision to abort an unborn child.  To delay this law taking effect is to further jeopardize the health of women entering abortion clinics.”

Graham said in an email before Tuesday’s ruling that Judge Sparks has been a thorn in the side of the law — even before issuing a ruling on it.

“In a shocking move, an activist federal judge dismissed our amicus brief submitted to the court in defense of our new Texas Sonogram Law,” she said. “The well-known pro-abortion judge claimed that he’s not going to allow politics in his court. I guess what he really meant was any politics that differ from his own.”

The Texas Right to Life brief was authored on behalf of the very legislators who passed the ultrasound bill and, in it, the legislators explained their intent to the judge in passing the law.

Graham says she isn’t surprised because she believes the ultrasound law is a groundbreaking one that other states may follow as it joins a handful of similar measures on the books in other states.

“The Sonogram Law requires that doctors who are about to commit an abortion must show the image of the baby to the mother and give her the opportunity to hear her baby’s heartbeat. The law is simple, straightforward, and common sense,” Graham said. “But the abortion industry fears sonograms — moms choose Life when they see their baby’s face or toes, or thumbs. Since Roe v. Wade, there has never been a more powerful tool to change a mother’s mind than seeing the face of her preborn baby.”

Graham says arguments from abortion advocates that the law is an inconvenience for women don’t make sense.

“Planned Parenthood already does sonograms before abortions. Yet they almost always refuse to let women see the images — even when the desperate mothers ask to see them,” she said. “For every abortion, Planned Parenthood rakes in between $350 and $600. A sonogram transforms a confused customer into a mother willing to rise off the table, walk out of the abortion mill, and choose Life. The last option Planned Parenthood wants is for a frightened girl to take time, to even think, to have a chance to change her mind.”

“Our Sonogram Law is the best chance we’ve had in decades to take pregnant girls right out of Planned Parenthood and shut down their filthy, evil business. And Planned Parenthood knows this — they know the threat of the truth, of women looking through the window to the womb,” Graham said.

Thanks to Governor Rick Perry, legislation that will allow women who are considering an abortion to see an ultrasound of their unborn child beforehand was made a priority during the most recent legislative session.

“Governor Perry was pleased to sign this important legislation, which bolsters our efforts to protect life by ensuring Texans are fully informed when considering such an important decision,” said Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for the governor.

The legislation allows women to see the ultrasound 24 hours before the abortion and abortion centers typically do ultrasounds to estimate the age of the baby before the abortion but they don’t normally allow women a chance to see or explain to them in detail the development of their unborn child. When used in pregnancy centers offering abortion alternatives, approximately 80 percent of women change their mind about having an abortion.