Senate Working on Abortion Sonogram Compromise

Looking to prevent a House-Senate stalemate over a bill Gov. Rick Perry declared an emergency at the outset of the legislative session, a panel of senators today discussed an abortion sonogram compromise that would allow some women to wait just two hours after a sonogram to have an abortion, instead of 24 hours.

The House and the Senate have approved similar versions of the sonogram bill, which would require a woman to get a sonogram and hear a description of the fetus before an abortion. But there's one big sticking point: the length of time a woman must wait to have the abortion after getting a sonogram. The House version, HB 15 by Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, would require a 24-hour waiting period. The Senate bill by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, would only require a two-hour waiting period — the result of an amendment by Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, in order to get the bill passed in that chamber.

Miller has said he will not reduce the waiting period for his bill, leaving the Senate State Affairs Committee with the task of rehashing that chamber's bill, or drawing Uresti on board with a compromise. Uresti said his district — the largest in the state — has no abortion clinic, meaning women must travel long distances to get one, and are inconvenienced if they face a 24-hour waiting period. The committee, which met today, appears to have reached an agreement that will get Uresti's OK — giving women in counties with populations under 60,000, or who live more than 100 miles away from an abortion clinic, the option for a two-hour waiting period. The waiting period everywhere else would be 24 hours. Patrick said the majority of abortions occur in the state's urban areas, or nearly 55 out of 254 counties.

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