Texas Ultrasound Bill for Women Faces Pro-Abortion Lawsuit

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 13, 2011   |   1:32PM   |   Austin, TX

A Texas bill that Governor Rick Perry recently signed into law now faces a lawsuit from a pro-abortion legal group not content to allow women to see images of their unborn children before an abortion.

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.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, a pro-abortion law firm based in New York City, filed the lawsuit against the new law today and is seeking to have a judge issue a temporary restraining order so abortion businesses in the state don’t have to implement the law while the lawsuit moves forward. The measure is scheduled to go into effect September 1 and abortion businesses would be obligated to allow women a chance to see the ultrasound.

“This law barges in on the doctor-patient relationship” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “When you go to the doctor, you expect to be given information that is relevant to your particular medical decisions and circumstances, not to be held hostage and subjected to an anti-choice agenda.”

However, women who go to abortion centers have no prior relationship with the physician doing the abortion as most don’t typically have legitimate medical practices and treat women in family practice or obstetrics settings outside of doing abortions. Most women will never see the abortion practitioner again following the abortion unless there are medical problems and complications following.

“This law is patronizing to women in Texas. It is based on outdated stereotypes that women are too immature or too incompetent to make important decisions,” Northup claims about the law allowing women additional pre-abortion information.

The pro-abortion legal firm filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin, on behalf of Texas Medical Providers Performing Abortion Services, a plaintiff class of abortion practitioners and facilities The class is represented by plaintiffs Metropolitan Ob-Gyn, P.A., D/B/A Reproductive Services of San Antonio and Dr. Alan Braid, an abortion practitioner.

The Senate passed the bill on second reading on a 21-10 vote and all hostile, pro-abortion amendments by Sens. Wendy Davis, Jose Rodriguez, and Leticia Van de Putte were defeated. After the Texas Senate signed off on the legislation, the state House, on a 94-41 vote, voted to concur on the Senate changes to HB 15, the sonogram bill.

During the debate, the biggest point of contention was whether women should be allowed to see the ultrasound 24 hours before the abortion so they have time to reflect on the information and images showing the development of their unborn child. Without the reflection time, legislators were concerned abortion businesses may rush women into abortions they may not otherwise want if given time for consideration.

Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for the governor, said 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.”

The legislation has been reworked from its original, but officials with Texas Alliance for Life informed LifeNews.com last month 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.

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 made the bill a priority. When used in pregnancy centers, ultrasounds convince more than 80 percent of women considering an abortion to keep their baby or consider adoption.