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Texas governor Rick Perry signed a controversial abortion measure into law last week. The new law will require women seeking abortions to get a sonogram before they are allowed to get the medical procedure. Perry prioritized the legislation, putting in a fast track to speed through the legislative chambers ahead of other bills. Texas is one in a string of states that have passed legislation to severely limit abortions this legislative season.
Texas women seeking abortions will also have to wait 24 hours after the sonogram before they have an abortion. However, women who live more than 100 miles from an abortion provider are only required to wait 2 hours. Women can decline to see the sonogram or hear the heartbeat under the new law. Medical providers must describe the image to the woman, explaining the size of the embryo, and the development of limbs and organs. In certain cases, the woman does not have to hear a description of the embryo, like in cases of severe fetal abnormalities or in cases or incest.
“Governor 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,” said Katherine Cesinger, a spokeswoman for the governor.
Opponents of the legislation maintain that the law interferes in the doctor-patient relationship. Adding a government requirement for such a personal and private decision can only traumatize women even more. Choice advocates also believe that most women do not make the decision to get an abortion rashly. Requiring women to wait and receive a sonogram so that they can be “fully informed” is insulting.
In March, Democratic State Representative Carol Alvarado lamented the proposed legislation during a debate on the House floor. To do a sonogram that early in pregnancy requires a trans-vaginal probe. “This is government intrusion at its best,” she said while holding up a probe.