Texas Senate Approves Abortion-Ultrasound Bill 21-16

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 17, 2011   |   5:25PM   |   Austin, TX

The Texas state Senate has approved a pro-life bill that would allow women a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn baby prior to getting an abortion — something abortion centers don’t normally allow.

The state Senate voted 21-10 to approve the bill and send it to the state House for consideration.

The bill, passed by the Senate State Affairs Committee 7-2 earlier this month, requires an ultrasound be performed 24 hours before an abortion. The mother must be presented with a sonogram and an audible fetal heartbeat, if detectable, which she can refuse to see or hear. Even if she did, doctors would still have to orally describe the development of the unborn child at the time.

Houston state Sen. Dan Patrick is the main sponsor of the legislation, which enjoys support from pro-life Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. The measure received approval from the state Senate in 2009 but eventually died in the state House as Speaker Joe Strauss was accused of not pushing the bill before time expired on the legislative session.

Patrick opened debate saying the bill is  necessary to provide the mother considering an abortion with the information she needs to make a decision. He also rebuffed concerns from the Texas Medical Association which said the measure would somehow intrude on the doctor-patient relationship even though women getting abortions have never met the abortion practitioner before.

“This is the only medical procedure that the goal ends in death. There is no patient relationship between that baby and the doctor,” Patrick said, according to an AP report.

Patrick also faced off with Senate Democrats who engaged in a debate lasting more than two hours over a procedural motion. Sen. John Whitmire, a pro-abortion Democrat from Houston, led the efforts to try to kill the bill.

Patrick also got some much-needed assistance from Sen. Carlos Uresti, who agreed to support the bill as long as the ultrasound information was presented 2 hours in advance as opposed to 24 hours ahead of time.

Passage comes after Texas Governor Rick Perry said he would grant emergency status to the legislation. Perry announced the fast track status last month during his speech at the March for Life in Austin.

“It’s pretty hard to imagine people of good conscience sitting idly by through this, and in Texas we haven’t,” he said, saying the Supreme Court decision to allow virtually unlimited abortions, Roe v. Wade, is a “tragedy.”

During committee consideration, the bill was changed after an abortion advocate testified against it, according to the Dallas News:

Their testimony prompted the Senate State Affairs Committee to amend the proposal so that women with medical conditions — as well as sexual assault victims — would not have to listen to the physical description of the fetus. All women will still get to undergo a sonogram.

Patrick said too many women are denied information about fetal development because abortion providers “don’t want them to see the sonogram.”

Teresa Sadler, 35, said that while she was a 19-year-old college student in Denton, she had an abortion where her provider turned the sonogram screen away and tried to prevent her from seeing it.

“I was told immediately to lie back down on the table,” she said. A drug was administered and the abortion was completed when she woke up. She said she never saw a doctor.

“I take responsibility for my decision,” said Sadler, who is now a nurse. But she said if she had the chance to see a sonogram and better informed, “I might have made a different decision.”

Planned Parenthood, the nation’s biggest abortion business, opposes the bill to inform women.