FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 19, 2011
Joe Pojman, Ph.D.
AUSTIN — After careful analysis, Texas Alliance for Life strongly supports the new version of the sonogram bill passed on April 12, 2011, by the Senate State Affairs Committee, the Committee Substitute for House Bill 15 (CSHB 15), sponsored by state Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston). The original House Bill 15 is authored by Rep. Sid Miller (R-Stephenville).
“We enthusiastically support this new version of the sonogram bill, which combines the best elements of the House and Senate versions,” said Joe Pojman, Ph.D., executive director of Texas Alliance for Life. “No bill is perfect, and this bill is not an exception. However, this bill provides nearly all of the informed consent protections allowed by the U.S. Supreme Court to at least 92% of women considering abortion. We believe this bill raises the standard of care related to informed consent for abortion to the same level that patients expect for other medical and surgical procedures. That is what women deserve.”
The following are a few of the key features of CSHB 15:
- Prior to every abortion, the physician who will perform the abortion or a certified sonographer must perform a sonogram before any sedative or anesthesia is administered. Currently, as revealed by public testimony, every abortion in Texas is preceded by a sonogram, and first trimester abortions are preceded by transvaginal sonograms. However, current Texas law has no sonogram standards for abortion facilities, and even transvaginal sonograms are performed by poorly trained, uncertified individuals, according to the public testimony.
- Before every abortion, the physician must give an explanation of the sonogram images of the unborn child. The woman may waive this right only in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormality, and judicial bypass for a minor.
- Before every abortion, the physician must allow the woman to see the sonogram images of the unborn child and hear the heartbeat along with a verbal explanation of the heartbeat.
- At least 24 hours before every abortion, the physician must have a private consultation with the woman to discuss the procedure, medical risks, and alternatives. This ensures that every woman has the right to speak with the abortion doctor at least 24 hours in advance about risks, complications, and alternatives, just as they would receive from a physician prior to virtually any other procedure.
- For women who reside in counties with more than 60,000 people (more than 92% of women seeking abortions), the sonogram must be performed at least 24 hours before the abortion, and the consultation must be given in person.
- For women who reside in smaller counties or more than 100 miles from an abortion provider (less than 8% of women seeking abortions), the sonogram may be performed at least two hours before the abortion and the 24-hour private consultation may be done by phone.
- The Texas Medical Board must take appropriate action against physicians who violate this law.
- The Department of State Health Services must make random, unannounced inspections to ensure compliance.
“We strongly encourage members of the House and Senate to vote for this bill,” urged Pojman. “Texas needs to provide the protections to mothers and unborn babies that they deserve.”
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