Texas Senate Panel OKs Bill for Ultrasound Before Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 12, 2011   |   3:45PM   |   Austin, TX

The new version of the bill allowing women a chance to see an ultrasound of their unborn baby before an abortion has been approved in a state Senate committee and is now headed to the full Senate for a vote.

“This version provides nearly the greatest informed consent protections allowable by the US Supreme Court to more than 92% of Texas women,” Texas Alliance for Life said today. “We strongly support it.”

Thanks to pro-life Governor Rick Perry making sonogram legislation an emergency item, the House and Senate have already passed bills requiring doctors to show abortion-seeking women their sonogram, as well as play the heartbeat of their child. The legislation already has the support of another pro-life group, Texas Right to Life.

“This law will protect women by ensuring they receive all the relevant information while considering an abortion; furthermore, this bill protects innocent human life,” the group said. “Texas Right to Life is very enthusiastic about the potential this law has to protect women and save lives.  Currently, the House version of the bill (HB 15) has stronger protections and stricter enforcements than the version the Senate passed (SB 16).”

Since the sonogram bills that passed in each chamber were not considered “companion bills,” the House had to pick up the Senate version or vice versa.

Emily Kebodeaux, a TRTL legislative associate, hopes pro-life advocates support the measure but urges them to ask legislators to also support some other pro-life bills.

“As the first emergency measure to be debated and voted on in both chambers this session, and by receiving the most attention and media coverage of any Pro-Life bill so far, the sonogram bill has been characterized as “the pro-life bill” of the session,” she said. “However, while passage of sonogram legislation is a monumental victory that will surely spare numerous Texas women the regret of making an uninformed decision and save countless unborn children’s lives, we refuse to stop there.”

“Texas Right to Life has many more noteworthy and effective bills filed on our priority legislative agenda; seven to be exact.  Ranging from opting abortion funding out of the federally-mandated ObamaCare to ensuring patients and their families have an involved role in their healthcare decisions, and helping prevent women from forced abortions, Texas Right to Life’s legislative team and our Pro-Life legislative members are staying busy working towards protecting women, the unborn, the sick, and the elderly in Texas,” she added.

In March, after Democrats used parliamentary stalling tactics and filed a slew of amendments designed to weaken the bill, the state House 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 in February. 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 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.