Texas House approves bill requiring ultrasounds before abortions

[JURIST] The Texas House of Representatives [official website] on Monday voted 107-42 [roll call] to approve legislation that requires women seeking an abortion [JURIST news archive] to undergo an ultrasound before the procedure is performed. The bill [HB 15 text; materials] requires doctors to conduct a vaginal ultrasound and display the images at least 24 hours prior to an abortion, and would strip them of their medical licenses should they fail to do so. It is now expected to proceed to a conference committee [Houston Chronicle report] to reconcile with the Senate [official website] version [SB 16 text; materials], passed [roll call vote] last month. Key differences in the Senate bill include a waiting period of only two hours and exceptions from the requirements under certain circumstances, including rape, incest or fetal abnormalities. Once through committee, the legislation will go to Governor Rick Perry [official website] for his signature.

Last month, the Kansas House of Representatives [official website] approved several new abortion restrictions, including one similar to a recent Nebraska act [JURIST reports] that prohibits the procedure after the 20-week mark, when some studies suggest a fetus can begin feeling pain. In December, the Alaska Superior Court upheld a parental consent notification law, whereas in November, Colorado voters rejected an amendment [JURIST reports] that would have granted fetuses a "personhood" status, effectively banning abortion. In June, then-Florida governor Charlie Crist vetoed a bill [JURIST report] that would have required women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound or listen to a detailed description of the fetus before the procedure would be performed. Oklahoma lawmakers approved a bill [JURIST report] in May requiring women seeking an abortion to complete an extensive questionnaire a month after passing laws [JURIST report] prohibiting abortions performed because of a fetus' gender, protecting medical employees who refuse to participate in procedures such as abortion based on religious beliefs, and regulating the use of RU-486, or mifepristone, a chemical used in abortion procedures.

 

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