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Texas governor (and Republican presidential hopeful) Rick Perry has condemned a federal judge’s order blocking certain provisions of Texas’ controversial sonogram legislation.
The Texas law requires women who are contemplating an abortion to view a sonogram of their fetus. Furthermore, they must listen to its heartbeat. Their physician must describe its state of development, with particular emphasis on the presence of internal organs and limbs. It easily passed both houses of the Texas legislature, both of which are controlled by Republicans.
U. S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruled that the law was “unconstitutionally vague” and constituted an attempt to force doctors and patients to engage in government-mandated speech. In his judgment, Sparks said that “the Act’s onerous requirements will surely dissuade or prevent many competent doctors from performing abortions, making it significantly more difficult for pregnant women to obtain abortions.”
In addition, he found that the legislation “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.”
Sparks’ ruling prohibits the state from penalizing doctors who fail to comply with the act or women who fail to obtain the required sonogram within 24 hours of a scheduled abortion. Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, hailed the ruling as a “huge victory for women in Texas.” The Center is the organization that originally challenged the law in court.
“Politicians have no business telling doctors how to practice medicine or meddling in women’s private medical decisions,” she continued.
Gov. Rick Perry disagreed. “Every life lost to abortion is a tragedy and (the) ruling is a great disappointment to all Texans who stand in defense of life,” he said. “This important sonogram legislation ensures that every Texas woman seeking an abortion has all the facts about the life she is carrying, and understands the devastating impact of such a life-changing decision.”
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has announced that the state would appeal against Sparks’ ruling.
By coming out strongly in favor of the sonogram law, Perry is bolstering his credentials as a social conservative. His chief rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, on the other hand, has a reputation for being much more moderate on social issues. No doubt Perry hopes that his strident social conservatism will win him plaudits from the GOP faithful and catapult him to victory in the primaries.
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