Texas can go ahead and enforce its controversial “sonogram law” while opponents challenge it in court. KERA’s BJ Austin says a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the state and overturned a lower court “stay”.
Texas Governor Rick Perry in a statement from the presidential campaign trail, called the appeals court ruling a victory. The Governor said, the sonogram legislation “ensures that every Texas woman seeking an abortion has all the facts.”
Kelly Hart, at Planned Parenthood in Dallas, sees it differently.
Hart: It was rather paternalistic to say that a woman doesn’t know what’s going in inside her body especially when more than 60% of Texas woman who have an abortion already have at least one child. So it’s very demeaning to tell this woman that she really doesn’t understand what she’s decided to do.
Under the law, a doctor must show and describe the sonogram of the fetus, and make the heartbeat audible. In the appeals court ruling, Chief Judge Edith Jones said “the required disclosures … are the epitome of truthful, non-misleading information.”
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, in a statement says the appeals court ruling affirms that “the sonogram law falls within the State’s authority to impose reasonable regulations on the practice of medicine” … and, “description of the sonogram does not violate the First Amendment.”
Hart says the appeals court ruling is very discouraging.
Hart: Her only way to actually opt out is, what the court said, is to not pay attention. She has to plug her ears and close her eyes. This is just another hoop they have to jump through to get a medical procedure that is still legal and constitutional in this country.
Attorney General Abbott says the appeals court ruling “upholds the will of the people of Texas.” And Governor Perry vows: we will continue to fight any attempt to limit our state’s laws that value and protect the unborn.” A district court hearing in Austin on the sonogram law is set for January 20th.