Texas Pro-Life Groups Disagree on Revised Ultrasound Bill

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 20, 2011   |   1:16PM   |   Austin, TX

Two Texas pro-life groups disagree about whether a revised bill allowing women to see an ultrasound before an abortion is good enough to ask Texas lawmakers to support.

Texas Alliance for Life says the revised measure, CSHB 15, is worthy of support. The legislation has been reworked from its original, but officials with Texas Alliance for Life informed LifeNews.com that, after careful analysis, the organization strongly supports the new version of the sonogram bill passed on April 12 by the Senate State Affairs Committee. The bill is the committee substitute for House Bill 15 and is sponsored by state Sen. Dan Patrick, a Houston Republican.

“We enthusiastically support this new version of the sonogram bill, which combines the best elements of the House and Senate versions,” Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, told LifeNews. “No bill is perfect, and this bill is not an exception. However, this bill provides nearly all of the informed consent protections allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court to at least 92% of women considering abortion.”

But Texas Right to Life does not support the bill and says the revised measure comes up short of the stronger provisions HB 15 had when the Texas state House approved it.

In a statement TRTL sent LifeNews.com, the pro-life organization said:  “Right now, most abortion clinics will say they already do a sonogram prior to an abortion. The problem is that women have been refused the option to view the screen and to see their unborn child.  We now have solid Pro-Life majorities and leadership in both the State Senate and the State House.  Texas should pass a strong sonogram bill, yet the few remaining pro-aborts are using every trick in the book and are trading favors to defeat any substantial Pro-Life measure.”

“Texas Right to Life has been working on behalf of the people of Texas, born and unborn, who deserve a Sonogram Bill that will serve as a model for our nation.  Please study the comparison and call and email your State Senator to tell him or her which provisions you would like to see in a sonogram bill,” the group added.

Texas Right to Life also released a graphic comparing the bills:

Under the legislation, prior to every abortion, the abortion practitioner or a certified sonographer must perform a sonogram before any sedative or anesthesia is administered. Currently, as revealed by public testimony, every abortion in Texas is preceded by a sonogram, and first trimester abortions are preceded by transvaginal sonograms. However, current Texas law has no sonogram standards for abortion facilities, and even transvaginal sonograms are performed by poorly trained, uncertified individuals, according to the public testimony, TAL explained.

Before every abortion, the abortion practitioner must give an explanation of the sonogram images of the unborn child. The woman may waive this right only in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormality, and judicial bypass for a minor, the group noted. The abortion practitioner must also allow the woman to see the sonogram images of the unborn child and hear the heartbeat along with a verbal explanation of the heartbeat.

At least 24 hours before every abortion, TAL says the bill makes it so the abortion practitioner must have a private consultation with the woman to discuss the procedure, medical risks, and alternatives. Pojamn said this ensures that every woman has the right to speak with the abortion doctor at least 24 hours in advance about risks, complications, and alternatives, just as they would receive from a physician prior to virtually any other procedure.

For women who reside in counties with more than 60,000 people (more than 92% of women seeking abortions), the sonogram must be performed at least 24 hours before the abortion, and the consultation must be given in person. For women who reside in smaller counties or more than 100 miles from an abortion provider (less than 8% of women seeking abortions), the sonogram may be performed at least two hours before the abortion and the 24-hour private consultation may be done by phone.

The Texas Medical Board must take appropriate action against any abortion practitioner who violates the law, TAL says, and the Department of State Health Services must make random, unannounced inspections to ensure compliance.

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.

Texas lawmakers voted 103-42 to approve House Bill 15, which was similar but slightly different to legislation the state Senate approved on a 21-10 vote in February.  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.