Texas governor signs law requiring sonogram before abortion

[JURIST] Texas Governor Rick Perry [official website] signed into law Thursday a bill [HB 15 text; materials] that requires women seeking an abortion [JURIST news archive] to first get a sonogram. The law requires doctors to conduct a 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. The law also requires doctors to provide "a simultaneous verbal explanation of the results of the live, real-time sonogram images, including a medical description of the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity, and the presence of arms, legs, external members, and internal organs." The law contains exceptions from the requirements under certain circumstances, including rape, incest or fetal abnormalities.

The Texas House of Representatives [official website] approved the bill [JURIST report] in March. Earlier this week, the Missouri House of Representatives [official website] passed a bill prohibiting late-term abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Last month, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R) [official website] announced the signing [JURIST report] of two pieces of legislation restricting abortions in the state. One bill requires unemancipated minors to obtain notarized parental signatures before an abortion may be performed. The other, the "fetal pain bill", restricts abortions beyond 22 weeks of pregnancy based on the belief that a fetus can feel pain at that stage of gestation. Earlier in April, the Idaho legislature [official website] gave final approval [JURIST report] to a bill that would prohibit most abortions after 20 weeks of gestation.

Correction: The original text of this story said that the Texas law required "vaginal sonograms" before an abortion can be performed. The text of the law does not explicitly require vaginal sonograms. However, in many cases it will be necessary to administer the sonograms through a vaginal probe [The Dallas Morning News report]. [updated on February 9, 2012]

 

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