Texas Judge Strikes Down Parts of Sonogram Law

Says certain requirements violates First Amendment
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2011 2:22 AM CDT
Updated Aug 31, 2011 7:10 AM CDT
Texas Judge Blocks Anti-Abort Ultrasound Law
A family doc carries out a sonogram on a pregnant woman.   (Getty Images)

A Texas judge has stopped the state from implementing a controversial anti-abortion law tomorrow that requires women to have a sonogram before they can abort a fetus, after finding parts of it unconstitutional. Judge Sam Sparks let stand the sonogram demand, but shot down requirements that a physician verbally describe images revealed by an ultrasound, display an image of it, and make audio of the heartbeat available, reports the Austin American-Statesman. He ruled that the requirements violate the First Amendment rights of both doctor and patient.

The provision "compels physicians to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wish to listen," Sparks said. He also shot down the requirement that a woman sign a statement saying she was the victim of rape or incest to avoid getting the sonogram, notes the BBC. The "extremely personal, medically irrelevant facts" demanded by the law appears to indicate that the "Texas legislature wants to permanently brand women who choose to get abortions," Sparks added. Abortion rights activists hailed the ruling as a major victory. (Read more early pregnancy stories.)

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