Sonogram bill closer to law in Texas

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by GARY REAVES

WFAA

Posted on May 3, 2011 at 5:50 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 3 at 9:21 PM

Should a Texas woman who is seeking an abortion first have to view a sonogram of the fetus? A bill mandating that procedure took a big step forward on Tuesday.

Supporters say it amounts to informed consent, while critics argue that it makes an already difficult situation even harder.

The bill that just passed the Texas Senate would require every pregnant woman to have a sonogram while the doctor describes her fetus in detail.

The State House has already passed a similar version of the bill and Gov. Rick Perry says he will sign it.

It will require the sonogram be administered 24 hours before any scheduled abortion, forcing the woman to make two trips to the clinic.

The woman could refuse to watch the image on the screen, but she would have to listen to the doctor's description. At abortion provider Planned Parenthood, Kelly Hart is outraged.

"You find yourself with an unwanted pregnancy. You are at your wit's end. You have decided an abortion is the best choice for you. And now the state wants to make it that much harder for a woman to do what she needs to do, and that's shameful," Hart said.

But those who oppose abortion, like Christina Caine, say it's about time such a requirement is enacted.

“I have sat with women who have faced incredible pain and trauma from abortion, and the ultrasound gives them an opportunity to see their child and make a better decision," she said.

Caine runs The White Rose, a women’s center that already uses sonograms to help convince women not to have abortions.

"We know its a lifesaving thing," she said. "In over 90 percent of cases, a woman will chose life if they see the baby in the ultrasound."

At Planned Parenthood, they question that statistic, and say the majority who get abortions already have kids and don't need to see an ultrasound image.

"We think women who have made the decision to terminate their pregnancies know what they are doing," Hart said. "They know why that decision is best for them."

Gov. Rick Perry praised lawmakers in a written statement on Tuesday.

"The Texas Senate has taken admirable action today ... Ensuring Texans have access to all the information when making such an important decision is a critical step in our efforts to protect life, and I look forward to this legislation reaching my desk very soon."

E-mail greaves@wfaa.com

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