Texas House Passes Bill for Ultrasound Before Abortion

State   Steven Ertelt   Mar 4, 2011   |   1:19PM    Austin, TX

After Democrats used parliamentary stalling tactics and filed a slew of amendments designed to weaken the bill, the state House late Thursday approved a bill helping women see an ultrasound of their baby before considering an abortion.

The bill is meant to give women a chance to get information they may not normally receive from an abortion center before they have an abortion.

Texas lawmakers voted 103-42 to approve House Bill 15, which is similar but slightly different to legislation the state Senate approved on a 21-10 vote last month. The Senate bill requires the ultrasound two hours before the abortion while the House measure requires it 24-72 hours beforehand.

Republican Rep. Sid Miller sponsored the bill that will get a final vote on the state House on Monday before heading to the Senate and said: “We want to make sure that they’re fully informed, that they understand the medical consequences, the psychological consequences and everything involved in the procedure.”

Democratic Rep. Carol Alvarado was one of the top abortion advocates looking to stall the bill and she and Democratic Rep. Rafael Anchia misled lawmakers into thinking a trans-vaginal ultrasound was necessary, even though doctors say that’s not the case.

Freshman Rep. Sara Davis was the only Republican vote against the measure and said she did so because of her ”commitment to work against the expanding role of government and my commitment to protect the doctor-patient relationship from government interference.”

Once the legislature reconciles the two different measures, a bill will need to be approved and then it will head to pro-life Gov. Rick Perry, who has already promised to sign the measure into law.

Sen. Dan Patrick, a Houston Republican who sponsored the Senate measure, said senators don’t like the House version, but he is confident the bills can be merged.

“I appreciate the hard work and the efforts of the House, and if I could vote for their bill by myself, I’d sign off on it,” Patrick said. “But we do not have the votes to pass their bill, and every day that goes by, we lose potentially 40 to 50 lives. So we cannot let this process linger.”

The lopsided vote in the House points to the successful elections in 2010 when pro-life advocates in Texas were able to replace many longstanding abortion advocates with new pro-life legislators. it was also a display of the two-thirds majority Republicans have in the state House.

Texas pro-life groups strongly support the legislation.

“One of the top priorities for Texas Alliance for Life and other pro-life groups is the passage of the Sonogram Bill, to give a woman considering abortion the right to see the sonogram image of her unborn child and to hear the heartbeat. Presently, abortion providers can legally deny women this information. Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers oppose this bill,” TAL said.