Texas Republicans Disagree Over Abortion Bill Amendments

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Perry, who fast-tracked the bill by granting it emergency status during this legislative session, told the media last Monday, "I commend the Texas House for passing this legislation, which bolsters our efforts to protect life by ensuring Texans are fully informed when considering such an important decision."

Planned Parenthood Rallies in Austin

Critics in Texas say that state legislators are overstepping their roles and interfering with the private relationships that physicians have with their patients.

A day after the House bill was passed, hundreds of Planned Parenthood supporters from across the state of Texas hoisted bright pink signs to rally against the sonogram bill. Speakers included Democrats from the state House and Senate, as well as Sarah Weddington, the prosecutor for the landmark Roe vs. Wade case, which legalized abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy in the U.S.

"We have concerns about both bills, about the nature of elected officials dictating exactly how physicians should practice medicine," said Sarah Wheat from Planned Parenthood in Austin.

UT graduate student Ellen Warren attended the rally to support Planned Parenthood's many services and to protest against what she calls the Republican Party's criminal overstepping against women's rights.

"Forcing well-intentioned doctors to describe a sonogram of a woman's fetus is not only wrong but adds to the emotional and mental pain women face while going through such a difficult decision," Warren said.

Joe Pojman, Executive Director of the Texas Alliance for Life, said that while Texas Alliance supports both bills, he believes that the House version goes further to reach the goal of fully informed consent for women.

"Women considering abortion deserve the right to fully informed consent. That should include a consulting session with the physician who will perform the abortion in a private setting at least 24 hours before the abortion," Pojman said. "That should also include a sonogram at least 24 hours before the abortion, and the right to see the sonogram image of the unborn child and to hear the heartbeat."

But Miller said that his bill prevents the real emotional duress that can arises when women are not afforded the opportunity to view a sonogram before an abortion.

"I'll tell you where the emotional distress occurs. It occurs later, after the procedure is done and the woman actually sees a sonogram approximately the same age as her unborn child. Then the woman has emotional regrets," Miller said.

Sonogram Costs

While the Senate version of the bill now requires the patient to pay non-refundable fees for both the sonogram as well as the abortion, regardless of whether or not she opted out of the sonogram viewing, the House version would not.

Patrick said women have testified in the committee hearings that their abortion in Texas is preceded by a sonogram and that the cost of those is already included in the cost of the abortion.

"The testimony that we have received over three sessions has shown that Planned Parenthood and other clinics are already charging women for (the sonogram)," Patrick said. "Women may not know it but Planned Parenthood has testified that they perform the sonogram 100 percent of the time. The difference is they don't tell the women or let them see it if they ask."

What's Next in Texas

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