Under a measure approved on Thursday by the Texas House of Representatives, women seeking an abortion would have to first get an ultrasounds, Reuters is reporting. Women seeking an abortion at any clinic in the state of Texas would have to get an ultrasound between 24 and 72 hours before an abortion, according to the legislation.
Patients would view the sonogram, hear an explanation of the image and listen to any audible heartbeat. This first significant bill considered by the House this year, was designated by Republican Governor Rick Perry as an emergency priority. A similar measure has already been approved by the state Senate.
“We want to make sure that they’re fully informed, that they understand the medical consequences, the psychological consequences and everything involved in the procedure,” said the bill’s author, Republican state Rep. Sid Miller.
Rep. Carol Alvarado held up a trans-vaginal probe used for sonograms early in pregnancy to illustrate what she called a “very intrusive process,” in order to illustrate the traumatization for women already in a difficult situation. “This is not the jelly on the belly that most of you think,” said Alvarado, a Houston Democrat. “This is government intrusion at its best.”
Unsuccessfully attempting to include amendments to the bill, Democrats tried to add a series of amendments to the bill. One of those said that if the woman decided not to go through with the abortion, the state would have to pay for the college education for the child.
Another, which also would have applied to cases in which the woman decided not to have the abortion, would have allowed women to get a court order to require the father of the child to get a vasectomy.
Differences between the House and Senate bills need to be worked out, before the bill can go to Perry for his signature. Republicans tried unsuccessfully to pass the sonogram proposal in 2007 and 2009. The measure benefitted from a much larger Republican majority in the House this year after the Republican victories in the 2010 elections.
Strong Republican legislative majorities in 18 other states have regulated the provision of ultrasound by abortion providers, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The requirements in those states vary widely; some of them require women to get an ultrasound before an abortion, while others require only that she be offered the chance to see the image if an ultrasound is performed.
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