Texas Republicans Disagree Over Abortion Bill Amendments

VIDEO: Ohio lawmakers consider so-called "heartbeat" bill to ban abortion.
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Texas lawmakers are at an impasse over a controversial abortion bill.

The Texas House passed a bill last Monday requiring physicians to provide a woman seeking an abortion with a sonogram and live audio of the fetal heartbeat at least 24 hours before her procedure, with no exceptions for victims of rape or incest.

A less stringent version of this bill, authored by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, was passed in the state Senate in February. Amendments include an exception for rape and incest victims and a two-hour waiting period before women have the abortion, rather than 24 hours.

But Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, who authored House Bill 15, said negotiations to smooth out a single version of this bill with Patrick may prevent it from reaching Gov. Rick Perry's desk before June 19th, the last day for the governor to sign or veto bills passed during the regular legislative session.

"We may not ever work them out," Miller told ABCNew.com. "We had a test vote on the Senate bill in the House and it failed by 113 votes. It's obvious to me my fellow colleagues don't like the Senate bill, so we may not pass anything."

Both bills are only halfway through the legislative process and each has primary sticking points. According to Patrick, Senate Bill 16's exception for rape and incest is a "non-negotiable item for the Senators."

Currently, women in Texas who get abortions are not required to view or hear sonograms of their unborn child.

In Texas, House Republicans, who have a supermajority, supported HB 15 with a landslide of votes, 107-42. Democrat Rep. Rafael Anchia, who voted against it, admitted last Tuesday, "It was a lonely, difficult place to be last week on the House floor."

According to HB 15, the woman may sign an affidavit exempting her from viewing or hearing the sonogram, but the physician would still be required to verbally describe the sonogram, including "the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity, and the presence of arms, legs, external members, and internal organs."

Republicans Introduce Abortion Legislation Across the Nation

It is the latest effort by Republican lawmakers to enact legislation curbing abortion.

South Dakota's Gov. Dennis Daugaard said that he will likely sign off on a new abortion law requiring women to wait 72 hours before they could go through with the procedure, regardless of Planned Parenthood's intent to sue the state if he does so.

Likewise, Republicans in Ohio have proposed legislation to outlaw the procedure in that state after the first detectable fetal heartbeat.

In Idaho, Republicans are trying to move legislation that bans state insurers from including abortions in their medical coverage.

According to a report by the Guttmacher Institute, which works to advance sexual and reproductive health worldwide, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana currently all require that an abortion provider perform an ultrasound on each woman seeking an abortion, and require the provider to offer the woman the opportunity to view the image.

"Basically, my bill would be informed consent," said HB 15 author Miller. "Women were not being afforded the ability to see the sonogram. Even women who requested to view it were denied."

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