Stories: Abortion Ruling Won’t Stop Perry

When Texas’s 82nd legislature convened in January, the state was facing what the Houston Chronicle called a “sickening shortfall” of between $15 billion and $27 billion. Yet fiscal issues were notably absent from Gov. Rick Perry’s list of “emergency” items that lawmakers had to fast track. Instead, he decreed that the state needed to prioritize legislation mandating sonograms for women seeking abortions. “When you consider the magnitude of that decision, ensuring someone understands what is truly at stake seems to be a small step, in my opinion,” he told the 2011 Texas Rally for Life. “Those of us here know that when someone has all the information, the right choice will be made, the choice of life.”
 
The resulting legislation, which was supposed to go into effect on Sept. 1, was among the most invasive in the country. Before carrying out an abortion, the law requires a doctor to perform an ultrasound on his or her patient, and to display the resulting images while giving her a detailed description of the embryo or fetus’s development, whether or not she wants to hear it. If a heartbeat can be detected, the doctor has to make it audible, irrespective of the patient’s wishes. First-trimester ultrasounds are typically performed vaginally, with a phallic-shaped wand. Forcing this procedure on an unwilling woman is a particularly intimate type of government intrusion.
 
On Tuesday, however, U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks, a George H.W. Bush nominee, issued an injunction temporarily blocking the law, pending a court case. “The Act 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,” wrote Sparks. So for now, women seeking abortions and the doctors who provide them will be spared this gratuitous dose of state interference, though Texas has already... more

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