AUSTIN (AP) – A federal judge will hear arguments Wednesday on whether to stop Texas from enforcing a new law requiring doctors to conduct a sonogram before performing an abortion.
The so-called sonogram law, which takes effect Sept. 1, requires a doctor to describe the fetus’ features and allow the pregnant woman to hear the fetal heartbeat. The law does not allow women to opt-out of the description. Exemptions are allowed only cases of rape or incest and when the fetus has fatal abnormalities.
The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the federal lawsuit last month, arguing that the law is unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks will hear the case in Austin.
The group is asking Sparks to impose an injunction to keep the law from being enforced until the lawsuit is resolved.
The center argues that the law forces doctors to say things against their will and violates medical ethics. Such ethics say a physician may not act upon the patient without her consent, the physician must respect the patient’s autonomy, and the physician must act in the patient’s best interests.
The law “damages the relationship of trust between physician and patient, and with compelled and unwanted speech imposes stress and emotional strain on women as they prepare to undergo a medical procedure,” the center argues in its lawsuit.
Supporters say the law is necessary to make sure women fully understand what an abortion entails. They cite cases where women later regretted having an abortion, and they insist the law will lead more women to decide against having one.
Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who opposes abortion, signed the bill into law and says he believes it’s necessary to protect unborn life.
“Even in Texas, where we pass the toughest laws in the nation, tens of thousands of lives are lost,” Perry said when he signed the legislation. “This is a tragedy we must all work together to stop.”
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