A federal judge on August 30 blocked key provisions of Texas’ new law requiring a doctor to perform a sonogram before an abortion, ruling the measure violates the free speech rights of both doctors and patients.
Women Seeking Abortions In Texas No Longer Required To Listen To Sonogram Descriptions
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks upheld the requirement that sonograms be performed, but struck down the provisions requiring doctors to describe the images to their patients and requiring women to hear the descriptions.
That means doctors won’t face the threat of losing their medical licenses if they do not show women seeking abortions their ultrasound images — as the law requires, even if the women say no. Doctors cannot be forced to describe the sonograms, or to make women listen to the fetal heartbeat over their objections.
In Texas, No Abortion Without Sonogram And Lecture First
As I wrote here, in May 2011, the act that Governor Perry signed into law would have meant that as of September 1, any woman in Texas seeking an abortion would first have to view a picture of the embryo or fetus and listen to a description of the image, explaining the size of the embryo or fetus and the presence of organs and limbs.
The law stated that at least 24 hours before an abortion is performed, women had to undergo a sonogram, a procedure that uses ultrasound to create an image.
However, as U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks writes now, the law “compels physicians to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity, and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wish to listen.”
Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Not Considered Medically Necessary
From The Washington Post:
Supporters argued the law ensures women fully understand what an abortion entails and said some women have regretted having abortions. They said the law would lead to fewer abortions in Texas. About 81,000 abortions are performed every year in Texas.
Opponents argued that requiring doctors to describe a fetus’ features would force them to say things against their will and would violate medical ethics requiring doctors to respect a patient’s autonomy and act in the patient’s best interest.
The Texas Medical Association opposed the law because it dictated when a doctor must perform a procedure and how the doctor must deal with a patient. While a pre-abortion ultrasound is routine, it is not considered medically necessary.
With this victory, the Center for Reproductive Rights, which had sued to block the original law, sent out this message: “We will not allow these lawmakers to turn back the clock on reproductive rights in Texas—and, with this lawsuit, we’re sending a message to anti-choice politicians everywhere that we will fight relentlessly to beat back their attacks.”
Hooray for them, and for the rights of women!
Photo Credit: eschipul via Creative Commons