Any woman seeking an abortion in Texas will be forced to undergo a sonogram and be asked if they want to view it or listen to the fetal heartbeat, thanks to a bill that passed today and that Governor Rick Perry says he can't wait to sign.
Pushed by Houston's state Senator Dan Patrick, the abortion-sonogram bill got final approval today in the Senate after an initial vote yesterday; the House's GOP supermajority easily passed its own version earlier and the Senate bill now goes back to the House for expected swift passage.
Perry quickly issued a statement today:
The Texas Senate has taken admirable action today by passing this significant sonogram legislation, and I want to thank Rep. Sid Miller and Sen. Dan Patrick for their work on this issue. 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.
Perry had declared the bill to be "emergency legislation" at the opening of the legislative session.
The bill requires women to undergo a sonogram 24 hours before any abortion.
The Texas Medical Association opposed the bill in a letter to the Senate:
TMA is concerned about the dangerous precedent SB 16, and related legislation, would set for health care in Texas -- a precedent that would lay the foundation for future lawmakers to establish the details of the interaction between physicians and patients, and allow non-physicians to mandate what tests, procedures, or medicines must be provided to patients and in what timeframe.
The bill does contain exemptions for rape or incest victims or if the fetus has fatal abnormalities.