Court Rules Texas Sonogram Mandate for Abortion Is Constitutional

A Court in Texas has ruled that a state law that says an abortion provider must do a sonogram for a pregnant woman considering an abortion at least 24 hours before the procedure is constitutional.

The United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decided on Tuesday that Texas’ HB 15 does not violate the free-speech rights of doctors.

“The court of appeals made it very clear that the Texas Sonogram law is constitutional,” said Jonathan Saenz, an attorney from the Liberty Institute who provided the main legal testimony for the defense, on Wednesday.

“[The Court] sent the message that that state has every right to prefer childbirth over abortion and to fully inform women of the details related to their decision to abort.”

Texas State Senator Dan Patrick, the man who introduced HB 15, told The Christian Post that when crafting the bill he had legal counsels helping to ensure its constitutionality.

“This is in line with almost every medical procedure,” said Patrick, who drew a comparison to when doctors give X-rays for broken bones and show or describe what they see to their patients.

“The average person knows that it is a standard practice of care.”

 “If you’re performing an abortion, you must perform a sonogram,” said Patrick, “and you must tell the woman.”

HB 15 amends an earlier piece of Texas legislation known as the Women’s Right to Know Act of 2003. The doctor must not only perform a sonogram and offer to show the results to the woman, but also allow the woman to hear the heartbeat of the fetus.

While pro-life advocates in Texas and elsewhere celebrated the decision as a major victory, pro-choice groups like the Center for Reproductive Rights saw it as “extreme.”

“One of the most extreme mandatory ultrasound laws in the nation has now led to an extreme court decision on this issue,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the CRR, in a statement.

“This law, and this decision, inserts government directly into a private decision that must be protected from the intrusion of political ideologues. Anyone concerned with the erosion of our constitutional rights should be profoundly concerned and disappointed by today’s events.”

At present, the CRR is considering whether or not it will attempt to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Regarding a possible appeal to the Supreme Court, Patrick noted that the decision “was based on other Supreme Court decisions” and is unlikely to be taken higher for several reasons.

HB 15 was introduced by Texas State Senator Dan Patrick and was signed into law on May 24, 2011, by Governor Rick Perry. The law was initially declared unconstitutional in August by U.S. District judge Sam Sparks of Austin, who believed it violated the free speech rights of doctors.

But with the Fifth Circuit’s ruling, the law can now be enforced.

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