AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – House Bill 15, better known as the ‘Abortion Sonogram Bill’, has passed the House.
The 107-42 vote was largely along party lines. House Bill 15 will require women to get sonograms before abortions.
The proposed law would require doctors to display the sonogram and play the fetal heartbeat for the woman as the doctor describes whether the fetus has arms, legs or internal organs. The woman can look away, but cannot decline the procedure.
The House bill is stricter than the Senate bill. One distinct difference is that the House bill would require at least a 24-hour waiting period between the sonogram and an abortion compared to the Senate’s two-hour wait.
Dr. Eugene Toy, with the Texas Association of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, says it’s not the waiting period that’s upsetting, but the fact that women can’t opt out. “The bill doesn’t give options to not have some of these procedures or explanations or the audible heartbeat,” he said. “In almost any other circumstance, the patient has the ability to say ‘No, I really don’t want to have that medical procedure’.”
Dr. Toy says his organization plans to work with lawmakers on a compromise, and doesn’t intend on taking any legal action at this time.
The bills sponsor, Stephenville Republican Representative Sid Miller, says sonograms are already a standard medical procedure, but one thing is missing during an abortion. “The design of the bill is to have a more informed consent,” said Miller. “Right now, the information is being withheld from the woman.”
The legislation would require many women who want an abortion — even victims of sexual assault — to have an ultrasound at least 24 hours before the procedure. The proposal now goes to the Senate for another full debate on which bill is better.
If the bill is passed and signed by the governor, according to the Texas Medical Association, the law would be the first time lawmakers have dictated when doctors must perform a procedure, and how they do it.