A controversial Texas sonogram bill remains in limbo as the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overrule a federal judge’s preliminary injunction that prevents Texas from enforcing the measure.
The law was scheduled to take effect last Saturday.
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks blocked enforcement of significant portions of HB 12 late August pending resolution of the constitutional challenges to the bill. Sparks held the law violates the First Amendment by requiring doctors to show a woman seeking an abortion the sonogram images, describe those images to her or play the sound of the fetal heart against her wishes.
Sparks also indicated concerns with other portions of the bill that would charge doctors with a misdemeanor crime, fine them $10,000 and lose their medical licenses if the doctors do not abide by the law.
The sonogram bill was a top priority for Republican lawmakers and one of Gov. Rick Perry’s “emergency” bills.
Sparks told lawyers he will likely decide the merits of the bill based on written briefs by both parties. Lawyers expect all written briefs to be filed by mid-December.
By refusing to intervene, the Supreme Court guarantees the challenge plays out in the district, then appellate level. Knowing the legal strategies employed by anti-choice advocates, expect to see similar measures snake through the federal courts making eventual intervention by the high court all but certain.
Photo from infowidget via flickr.