Texas Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Law Gets Court Hearing Today

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 6, 2011   |   1:42PM   |   Austin, TX

A pro-abortion legal group from New York City presented its case before a judge today about why a Texas law allowing women to see an ultrasound of their unborn children before an abortion should be thrown out.

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 claimed the law is unconstitutional and sought to have U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks block the state from enforcing it and helping women obtain more information while its lawsuit continues. Sparks didn’t issue a decision today on the injunction request but, according to an AP report, told both attorneys for the state and the pro-abortion group that he would issue a decision before the law takes effect October 1.

CRR filed the original complaint on June 13, seeking a permanent injunction. On Thursday, June 30, they filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. The Office of Attorney General Greg Abbott is defending the law and filed a response yesterday demonstrating that the law is constitutional.

The law has the support of two pro-life organizations.

“We believe that women considering abortion deserve that same standard of informed consent as anyone else considering a medical or surgical procedure,” says Joe Pojman, the director of Texas Alliance for Life. “This law is about preventing abortion facilities from denying women their right to informed consent.”

“House Bill 15, passed overwhelmingly by the Texas Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry, is considered to be one of the strongest sonogram bills in the nation. The law raises the standard of care for informed consent for abortion to the same level as other medical and surgical procedures by requiring the abortion doctor and the facility to provide adequate information to women considering abortion to decide whether to undergo the procedure,” Pojman explained.

Rachel Bohannon of Texas Right to Life agrees, saying, “Because the new sonogram bill is so strong and will definitely open a window to the womb previously closed decades ago, the abortion industry is desperate to keep this window darkened so that women do not clearly see life in the womb. When women see their unborn child smiling, thumb-sucking, or waving in the womb through a sonogram, they choose life—decreasing the income and the client base of the for profit abortion industry.”

“The sonogram bill will undoubtedly save lives and spare many women from the pain of a regretted abortion.  Texas Right to Life is dedicated to defending this historic Pro-Life legislation, confident that the legislation is constitutional and will foster countless decisions to choose life over abortion,” she added in a statement refuting some of the pro-abortion arguments.

“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.

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.” Thanks to pro-life Governor Rick Perry making sonogram legislation an emergency item, the House and Senate made the bill a priority.