Sonogram Law Must Be Enforced Immediately, Court Says

Texas abortion providers were hoping they'd have a few more weeks to start abiding by a state law requiring them to play the heartbeat of the fetus and describe its image on a sonogram at least 24 hours before performing the procedure.

They're not going to get it.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals approved Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott's request for immediate enforcement on Friday, meaning that clinics must scramble to comply — or face possible prosecution. 

“The sooner we start providing sonograms to those considering abortions, the more lives we can save," Texas Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement. "The Fifth Circuit’s decision requires abortion providers to immediately comply with the sonogram law, appropriately allowing Texas to enforce the will of our state, which values and protects the sanctity of life.” 

But Amy Hagstrom Miller, president and CEO of Austin-based Whole Woman's Health, an independent family planning clinic and abortion provider, said making women "listen to the heartbeat and hear a description of the fetus is not going to change her mind about abortion."

Upon hearing the news on Friday, Miller said her phone started ringing off the hook from doctors seeking clarity on how to proceed. "All it can really do is add another obstacle for women to navigate, and in the process, make her feel bad about her decision," she said.  

Abbott's request followed Tuesday's ruling by the Fifth Circuit that the state could enforce the new rule despite the fact that its constitutionality is still being challenged in court. An Austin district court had previously issued a stay to prevent enforcement. 

The AG's office declined to comment on Friday's ruling. 

 

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