AUSTIN- A state House committee is set to debate legislation that would require doctors to perform sonograms on women considering abortion.

The hearing Wednesday was for a bill filed by Republican Rep. Sid Miller that says a woman must be given a sonogram at least 24 hours before an abortion. The doctor must explain the features of the fetus and let the woman hear the fetal heartbeat.

Proponents of the legislation say women need information before an abortion. Opponents say the government shouldn't be involved in a doctor-patient relationship.

This legislation is not about abortion or about sonograms, it's about providing information, Miller said. Basically it's an expanded informed consent. We want to make sure the woman has every piece of information available to her before she makes a decision to abort the child or keep it.

Miller introduced a substitute bill that would remove the cause of action allowing a doctor to be sued if he violates the statute. He inserted a clause that says if a portion of the bill is declared unconstitutional, only that portion of the bill will be invalidated.

A similar bill authored by Republican Sen. Dan Patrick passed the Senate last week on a 21-10 vote.

Both bills provide an exception for a woman whose life is in danger. Patrick's bill exempts victims of rape and incest, or when a fetus has fatal abnormalities. It also says a woman only has to wait two hours between the sonogram and the abortion instead of 24.

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