Federal Judge pulls the plug on the sonogram bill

Staff Editorial

Illustration by Danny Meza

Federal Judge Sam Sparks recently ruled that significant portions of Rick Perry’s emergency law requiring women seeking an abortion to undergo a sonogram are unconstitutional. This law would require doctors to describe in detail the size of the fetus and its organs and make available audio of any fetal heartbeat. Slated to take effect September 1. 2011,Judge Sparks stated that provisions of the bill violated the First Amendment by forcing doctors to engage in government-mandated speech.

According to the exact wording of HB15 these are the requirements of the physician or sonographer who are performing these procedures. They shall :(1) perform a live, real-time obstetric sonogram on the pregnant woman on whom the abortion is to be performed;(2) display the live, real-time obstetric sonogram images in a quality consistent with current medical practice in a manner that the pregnant woman may view them; (3) provide, in a manner understandable to a layperson, a simultaneous verbal explanation of results of the live real-times sonogram images, including a medical description of the dimension of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity, and the presence of arms, legs, external members, and internal organs; and (4) make audible the live, real time  heart auscultations, when present, for the pregnant women to hear, in a quality consistent with current medical practice, and provide, in a manner understandable to a layperson, a simultaneous verbal explanation of the live, real-time heart auscultation.

This bill also requires the medical staff to provide and inform the pregnant women with all options available to them. They must provide literature and contact information for local services. The failure to fulfill these requirements will result in the offending physicians license being revoked and fined $10,000

Rick Perry commented on the ruling, “Every life lost to abortion is a tragedy, and today’s ruling is a great disappointment to all Texans who stand in defense of life.” Of course he does not take into account the unfortunate victims of sexual assault or incest. Although exempt from the sonograms these victims would have to be victimized a second time by having to divulge their information when determining they are actually exempt. Having to relive their experience is surely not a great disappointment as previously proclaimed by Governor Perry.

The Center for Reproductive Rights in New York in June filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of “Texas Medical Providers Performing Abortion Services,” which the center described as being led by a San Antonio ob-gyn group. The center applauded the decision. “Today’s ruling is a huge victory for women in Texas and a clear signal to the state legislature that it went too far when it passed this law,” said Nancy Northup, the center’s president and CEO. “Politicians have no business telling doctors how to practice medicine or meddling in women’s private medical decisions.”

Whether Governor Perry is trying to advance his agendas, either his bid for the highest seat in the country or his extreme religious views, the voters need to keep an open mind, when considering how far we should allow Rick Perry to go, when making decisions for this country.

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