AUSTIN (AP) – The Texas Senate has passed a bill that would require doctors to conduct a sonogram before performing an abortion and to describe whether the fetus has arms, legs or internal organs.
The bill requires doctors to perform the sonogram at least two hours before an abortion takes place and to provide the woman with the opportunity to view a sonogram, or hear the fetal heart beat. The bill makes exceptions for cases of rape, incest or where the fetus has fatal abnormalities.
The vote was 21 for the bill, and 10 against. The state House must now pass one of four similar bills.
Victims of sexual assault and incest would be exempted, as well as cases where the fetus has fatal abnormalities.
Gov. Rick Perry made the bill emergency legislation, and state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, authored the Senate bill. In opening the debate, Patrick said the bill is necessary to provide the woman with the information she needs to make a decision.
Opponents, including the Texas Medical Association, said the bill interferes with the doctor-patient relationship. If passed and signed by the governor, the law would be the first time lawmakers have dictated when doctors must perform a procedure, and how they do it, according the TMA.
Patrick rejected the criticism.
“This is the only medical procedure that the goal ends in death. There is no patient relationship between that baby and the doctor,” Patrick said. “This is God’s time to pass this bill.”
But Patrick faced fierce criticism from Democrats in a procedural debate that lasted more than two hours.
Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, argued that the bill would “make women do something they don’t want to do with their bodies” by requiring them to have a procedure they may not want.
“You’re going to require them to go through additional state of Texas red tape in order to do something they’ve already decided to do,” Whitmire said.
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