Texas Mandatory-Sonogram Bill: Court Challenge Ramps Up Tomorrow

The legal challenge to the new bill that forces women who are seeking an abortion to get a sonogram begins for real tomorrow, with a hearing on a temporary injunction barring enforcement of the law until it is all hashed out in court.

A federal court in Austin will hear arguments on the injunction request from the Center for Reproductive Rights, a national organization that filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Texas women.

"The Center argues that the ultrasound requirements violate the First Amendment rights of both the doctor and the patient by forcing physicians to deliver politically motivated communications to women, regardless of their wishes," says spokesperson Dionne Scott. "The Center also argues that the law discriminates against women by subjecting them to paternalistic 'protections' not imposed on men."

The law requires women who are seeking an abortion to get a sonogram and mandates that the doctor doing it "takes steps to show and describe the ultrasound images to her, and plays the sound of the fetal heart," the Center says.

In its injunction request, the Center says "the act forces physicians to deliver to their abortion patients government-mandated speech -- consisting of visual, auditory and verbal depictions of the fetus -- that falls outside of the accepted medical standards and practices for informed consent."

It says the law "damages the relationship of trust between physician and patient, and with compelled and unwanted speech imposes stress and emotional strain on women as they prepare to undergo a medical procedure."

Judge Sam Sparks is hearing the case.

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