Texas Abortion Law Sparks Anger, Resignation

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Some pregnant women avert their eyes. Others shed tears or simply tune out the abortion doctors as they describe the fetus and offer them a chance to hear the heartbeat and view the image.

These are the varied reactions seen in clinics across Texas since the state recently began enforcing perhaps the most stringent abortion law in the country. Among other things, the law requires that women seeking abortions hear their doctors describe the fetus’ development during a sonogram and then wait 24 hours before undergoing the procedure.

The law has sparked a wave of litigation amid a debate on whether the state is infringing on doctors’ rights and making an already stressful decision more traumatic for pregnant women.

“It’s condescending,” said Dr. Curtis Boyd, medical director and owner of Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center in Dallas.

“Before this law was even conceived, women were giving thoughtful consideration to whether they should go through with an unplanned pregnancy.”

One 19-year-old woman sitting in Boyd’s office on a recent afternoon accepted an offer to hear the heartbeat and see an image of the fetus as the doctor described the developing spine. But for her there was no turning back: With two children already, she said abortion was her best choice.

Another woman waiting for a sonogram in the same clinic didn’t express anger or resentment but acknowledged the pregnancy would soon “become a lot more real.”

The portion of the law requiring the sonogram and a 24-hour wait went into effect in the fall, but the remaining requirements — describing the fetus and offering patients to see an image and hear the heartbeat — were tied up in litigation until an appeals court ruled last month they could be enforced.

Supporters say the requirements ensure women are making an informed decision before undergoing an abortion, and they predict abortion numbers will drop as a result. Already the state has seen a dramatic decrease over the years: The health department tallied about 75,000 abortions in its latest data from 2010, far fewer than the 92,681 performed in 1990.

“It is something that cannot be taken back, reversed,” said Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, which supported the new law. He cited testimony last year as the Legislature debated the requirements from women who said they were denied the opportunity to see their sonogram when seeking an abortion.

Clinic administrators say they have seen no difference in the number of women who return after the mandated 24-hour waiting period. They say most of the women show little reaction to the actual sonogram and doctor’s description but are upset at having to make multiple appointments.

“We’re the first people that educate them about it and so they get really mad at the provider,” said Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and chief executive of Whole Woman’s Health, which has five clinics across Texas.

“I think women get to this point where it’s like, `What do I need to watch, what do I need to sign, what do I have to say to sign?’ Just let me have my procedure.”‘

Oklahoma and North Carolina have similar abortion laws, but courts in both states are blocking them. A number of states have other sonogram laws but the vast majority only requires the doctor to offer the woman the chance to view the sonogram, said Julie Rikelman, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The Texas law prompted the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights to sue on behalf of a group of doctors, arguing it infringed on their First Amendment rights and was unconstitutionally vague regarding enforcement. Earlier this month a federal judge upheld the law but said the appeals court had forced him to declare it constitutional.

Exceptions to the law are made if a patient doesn’t live within 100 miles of a provider, if the woman is pregnant as a result of a sexual assault, is underage or has a fetus with an irreversible medical condition or abnormality.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has informed doctors it will check that facilities are meeting the law’s requirements during annual inspections and do additional inspections if the department receives complaints. If a doctor violates the law, the Texas Medical Board must refuse to renew that person’s license.

Texas already had in place a requirement that a woman take part in a phone call with the provider 24 hours before the abortion so the doctor can tell her certain information mandated by the state. Included in those requirements are that the doctor tells her benefits may be available to help with medical care and that the father is required to help support the child.

Clinic administrators say the new rule, which requires the same doctor who does the sonogram to also perform the abortion, has complicated doctors’ and patients’ schedules.

Hagstrom Miller said some women have had to schedule their abortion up to two weeks after their initial visit. Other clinics have had to hire a couple more staffers to keep up with the extra appointments.

But these hassles are not the biggest problem Hagstrom Miller has with the law.

“It’s about shaming women. It’s about delaying abortions. It’s about making abortion more difficult to obtain,” she said. “But women know exactly what they’re making an appointment for.”

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


One Comment

  1. branwren says:

    All this is about is the pro-life fanatics have decided if they can’t cajole a woman into not having an abortion, or, convince a woman that she to stupid to know what she’s doing,they are going to guilt trip her or intimidate her. That’s all this is, a form of intimidation that somehow the courts have upheld regarding something that’s legal. Well lets do that with everything! Lets do our children like I was done when it came time to get my drivers license. Lets show them movies of terrible car wrecks! The one with an almost decapitated head should really intimidate them. Lets show rotted corpses before sky diving. OH!! lets show the entry and exit points of a hollow point bullet before selling someone a box of them. Yep, there’s no end to how mother thinks she knows what’s better for me and if she can’t get me to obey her mandates voluntarily, she’ll just get the law changed because I obviously don’t know what I’m doing riding my motorcycle without a helmet. Did ya ever think that I might not want to survive a bad motorcycle wreck? I might not want to be paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of my life? I might think going ahead and dying is a better choice for me? You sit in the wheel chair for the next 30-40 years. That’s not for me. Perhaps raising a child isn’t for someone else and I don’t have the right to tell them they have to. I think if you support these types of laws you and your children should be assigned a child that the mother changed her mind. I think you and your heirs should be legally and financially responsible for the child until it dies. I think if the child is abused by the parents, you too should do prison time. If you want it, put your money and your life where your mouth is.

    1. Juju says:


      1. Steve says:

        Amen? I though religious people don’t approve of murder…?

    2. Juju says:

      “Lets show them movies of terrible car wrecks!” I do have to say that sitting though those films DID have an impact on me, and today at 62 I’m still a very careful driver.
      owever, if I was younger and wanted an abortion, NOTHING would stop me from getting one.

  2. Val says:

    “It’s about delaying abortions. It’s about making abortion more difficult to obtain.” Yes and what is wrong with that? We are talking about murder of an innocent unborn child here.

    1. george says:

      define child

      1. tater says:

        Mirror – look in it. Bill Clinton…

    2. noname says:

      But Republicans cutting WIC and school lunch programs is FINE by you, right Val? To hell with childen OUTSIDE the womb, but OMG, every Republican in Congress will fall over themselves to make sure that fetus stays right where it is.

      1. Steve says:

        AMEN! Keep in in there!

    3. Tiffani Covais says:

      What gives you the authority to say what is okay for another person to do with their body? It is not for you to judge, if you believe in a higher power. Just be there to counsel them and offer help where you can.

    4. freelisa says:

      No it is not, don’t say stupid things. I don’t know if you are a man or a woman, but I have had a baby and I’ve had 4 miscarriages at home, and I GUARANTEE YOU< IT"S NOT A BABY.

    5. Melissa Dunagan says:

      It is not murder, life begins at birth ,has been this way since the begining of time.

    6. Tim says:

      Careful, Val. Speaking the truth is sure to get you a lot of nasty replies from anti-life fanatics.

      1. Melissa Dunagan says:

        It is not murder life begines at birth, not at conception.

  3. michelle says:

    you try being a woman in those shoes and lets see how your opinion changes. as someone who will never have to experience it, your opinion is just as worthless.

    1. MIKE says:

      bE RESPONSIBLE..helloooooooooo contraceptives are everywhere..the woman should have to die with her baby..be responsible..take care of what you cretaed..otherwise close ur legs!

      1. Juju says:

        What an IDIOT.

    2. Steve says:

      Trying being a woman who doesn’t get pregnant is she doesn’t want a baby. Responsibility, it may be out of fashion, but its still the best policy

  4. Jim says:

    Val, I just wish I were 20 years younger. Why? Because I would go to medical school and then perform abortions. People like you make me sick.

    BTW, did you support the war in iraq? If so, you are a hypocrite.

    1. MIKE says:

      Why not go out and kill people randomlly if you re so blood thirsty? Kill your whole family tonight since you like murder..You dont have to go to medical school to be a baby killer..Susan Smith did nt have a medical degree..so go ahead..satisfy your urge to murder..you DONT need a degree to murder!

      1. Juju says:

        Mike~Shut up. You sound llike a 3 yr old having a rant.

      2. Steve says:

        Wow, Juju is really whiny….

  5. ChrystinP says:

    I’m always so impressed that the same people who are anti-abortion are also anti-welfare, anti-healthcare, anti-everything else that the child might need to actually be a productive member of society.

    1. MIKE says:

      Ur impressed? Hmmm Then stop complaining..learn how to speak!

    2. Guest says:

      What you mean is that the pro-life people are pro freedom. I don’t want your healthcare… I want to choose my own. I don’t want your welfare… I want to create my own. I don’t want your money I can make my own. I don’t want your abortion as my child can kill herself should she choose too.
      Why is it that the anti-choice people hate freedom and want to cram slavery down our throats?

  6. MIKE says:

    If your mom is an inconvienance is it ok for you to kill her?

    1. Steve says:

      She’s not in utero anymore… what a shame…

  7. FedUpTxn says:

    Misogyny runs deep in this country. Women think they have rights, but they are wrong. Men are in control of the government, the courts, police, business, religion, and even a woman’s body. Slaves got the vote before women. Will men ever stop believing they have the right to control and abuse women?

    1. Steve says:

      When woman wake up and stop killing their babies or be more responsible and stop getting pregnant. Abstinence is 100 % effective!

  8. Aaron says:

    At seven billion people in this world, it will not be long before you will need a permit to demonstrate you are capable of raising an emotional and phsyical healthy child. The state will take “child protective services” to a new level and decide if you are going to a good enough parent to have a child. Any out of permited pregances will be terminated. It will be a strange place with the republicians leading the charge for regulated births. The republician political stance will be; only people with money should have children. This has been tried before, may be this group will have different luck. This is what lays a head when other people becide what you can do with your body.

  9. callen says:

    The abortion law is just another example of conservatives ramming BIG GOVERNMENT into our lives. Abortion should be between a woman and God, not between a woman and BIG GOVERNMENT.

    1. Steve says:

      Government should and must intervene when murder is invoked.

      1. callen says:

        Spoken by a true conservative. Unfortunately, you are not of Faith. If you were, you would realize that God, in His power, would prevent each abortion if it were His desire. God is all powerful. READ THE BIBLE, you demon.

      2. Steve says:

        God want intervene with our free will. Speaking of demons your argument sounds an awful like when Satan tempted Jesus in the desert.

      3. callen says:

        Steve, OK, fine. BIG GOVERNMENT must intervene between a woman and God…. NOT LIKELY! READ YOUR BIBLE!

  10. Reedmaker says:

    As usual, comments here support our national anger and mob madness on nearly any issue today. Where are we headed? Many of you will tell each other and me that because your are sure of your position, you must be correct You will insist that everyone else is wrong. Few of us are listening carefully to each other. Matters of religion or ethics will not be reconciled by yelling and screaming. Rational discourse probably won’t take place on issues like abortion. I applaud our constitutional right to free expression. And, I bemoan our ability to lambast each other. Finally, our politicians treat us as we seem to be: eighth grade school children endlessly arguing and never compromising with results that harm us individually and collectively.

  11. Sanders Kaufman says:

    The purpose of this politically mandated medical procedure was to traumatize women who seek LEGAL abortions.
    That’s what Christianity is all about.

    1. Steve says:

      About preventing murder. Exactly.

  12. BigFED says:

    The woman can just say “NO” when the OB/GYN starts the conversation. The law may state that the Doctor may have to present the information, but if the woman says “NO” right away, he CANNOT force her to listen or view/watch ANYTHING!!!

    The law cannot require the woman to be an unwilling participant in this process.

    “I want an abortion, end of subject!” should be the first words out of the woman’s mouth. For the Doctor to do or say ANYTHING further is tantamount to the act of rape!!!

    1. Steve says:

      That’s as logical as the mythical case of abortion necessary for the ‘health’ of the ‘mother’

  13. Craig says:

    Cigarettes= Legal………Marijuana= Not Legal
    No Helmet= Legal………Not wearing seat belt= Not Legal
    Abortion=Legal…………Assisted suicide= Not legal
    Alcohol= Legal………….Moon Shine= Not legal

    Partial birth abortion is murder, period. Amazing how upset people get when they can’t kill, easily. Where’s the “Easy Button”? Abortion should not be birth control for the irresponsible. It should be used for the most extreme situations, recommended by the DR.

    1. Julie says:

      I am so sick of MEN saying women use abortion as birth control. Abortion is a gut wrenching decision that is made after careful deliberation…for reasons that may or may not agree with YOUR preferred outcomes. (And YOU aren’t responsible for the support of the child, and whether or not a pregnancy is terminated has exactly ZERO effect on your life.) Women are not dumb, irresponsible idiots that need a man to make their decisions for them. No other person on the planet should be able to control my body but me. Stop forcing your backward Christian ideology down the throat of the entire country. It’s the dreaded Sharia law, just cloaked in Catholicism.

      1. Craig says:

        Peace to you. You can still kill and it is legal. I am not forcing any ideology just leaving my opinion on a comment page. And you are wrong about zero effect on my life, just stating my opinion before you cut me down.

      2. Brian says:

        Julie you are a bigot.

      3. Debbie says:

        Yes! Well said. An embryo is part of me until it is capable of life on its own. I utterly reject the religious hogwash of person-hood. It isn’t even Biblical! It is just some christian branch decision – not my Church’s belief.

        I am the only one who has authority over my body and the embryo in it. That you chose to call the embryo a baby doesn’t change things at all. My body, my faith and the law and constitution are on my side.

      4. John says:

        Except I’m responsible for child support because of “your” decision about what to do with the contents of “your” body. If it were only “your” problem under the law, then your argument would be valid. Zero effect? What about the effect of knowing my first conceived child was robbed of life before he drew his/her first breath?

    2. max frisson says:

      Craig, partial birth abortions are extremely rare late-term procedures that are almost always performed for medical reasons so would in most cases always have been performed.

      Over 90% of terminations are done in the fort trimester, before the fetus quickens. Historically termination in the 1st trimester has been an accepted practice and was only prohibited universally for about 80 years [1890 to 1970s]. With easier access, more drug-induced abortions and morning after and early reaction drugs you could radically lower the physical procedures and thus lower the reaction time. Reasonable to project 80%+ caught at under 6 weeks with better alternatives and wider availability. Bet you could get post 14 weeks down to near zero

      1. max frisson says:

        EDIT: done in the first trimester,

  14. tater says:

    You have to wait to buy a handgun after purchase why not wait after you see the lifeform? As far as womens rights, the usually exercised them to get in that way in the first place. Rape incest vs consensual unprotected sex will not make 10% of the abortions performed. That lame ass excuse is getting old. Take responsibility for actions.

    1. Debbie says:

      Pass a whole lot of legislation so that the father is also responsible. Enforce it. Shame the man like you are doing your best to shame the women. Once that is done then you may have a point. As it is – it is just attacking women. .

  15. phillip says:

    Rick Perry needs to have a sonogram of his head, to see if there is anything in there.

    1. Tiffani Covais says:

      That is so true. Believe me when I say he does not represent many of us Texans!

  16. Tiffani Covais says:

    It is a woman’s personal right to have an abortion. I can not understand what the government is thinking.They want to abolish birth control, planned parenthood and then make it shameful to have an abortion. Something is wrong with this picture. If you are concerned about financially taking care of other people’s mistakes…this is the wrong way to go.

  17. J Parker says:

    You don’t want a baby keep your legs closed, it’s really not that hard to do. But people willing to kill babies are moraless anyway. Instead of wondering what constitutes a living being you should ask yourself waht God thinks.

  18. Scott says:

    If Only we Could Abort The Liberals Destroying The Country , It Would Be Money Well Spent .

    1. Melissa Dunagan says:

      You have it all wrong, If we could abort all men the world would be a very nice place to live. Men are the problem.

      1. Brian says:

        Sexist much?

      2. Steve says:

        Takes two to get pregnant….

  19. Lynda says:

    Please stop beating up on Christians. I’m a Christian and I’m pro choice. My rights and views stop where someone else’s begins. I can not tell another person what to do with their body and I don’t want anyone telling me what to do with mine. And frankly men should just step back from this conversation unless they are having this conversation with their wife.

    1. Steve says:

      Lynda, do you think Christ would approve of abortion? Complete serious question. I can’t imagine that he would. I can’t imagine anyone that truly Christian could believe he would approve of this.

  20. Guest says:

    At least now women can have true freedom of choice and truly make an informed decision about whether to kill their child or not. The anti-life fanatics truly hate choice.

  21. Ceex2 says:

    We can’t take care of kids now! We complain about tax dollars going to women with children they can’t afford, we demand these women have drug testing, etc. If you religious fanatics care so much about these unborn children, why not start taking care of the ones that are already HERE? As Christians you are DEMANDED by god to take care of these children. What church does?? NONE!! NOT ONE. They sit back in their large churches, drinking starbucks and going home and sleep like a baby at night! You bunch of hypocrites! Leave these women alone. Believe me, not one fanatic is really a christian!! it is all for yourself!! PERIOD. HOW DISGUSTING!

    1. callen says:

      Well said.

Comments are closed.

More From CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

Drip Pan: CBS Local App
Drip Pan: Weather App

Watch & Listen LIVE