Abortion Sonogram Passes in Senate

The controversial abortion sonogram bill has passed the Senate by a vote of 21-10. Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, got the two-thirds vote needed to bring it to the floor, effectively ensuring it would pass.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Sen. Carlos Uresti, Sen. Robert Duncan and Sen. Dan Patrick review amendments to Senate Bill 16, the abortion sonogram bill.

The controversial abortion sonogram bill has passed the Senate by a vote of 21-10. Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, got the two-thirds vote needed to bring it to the floor, effectively ensuring it would pass. 

Senators spent Wednesday in tense negotiations. The bill hinged on the two-thirds vote to suspend the rules and bring it up, because lawmakers aren't simply split along party lines: A couple of anti-abortion Democrats support it, and one Republican opposes it on civil liberties grounds. The vote in the Senate was key to this legislation, because the overwhelming Republican majority in the House makes it likely to breeze through that chamber. 

Under Patrick's legislation, a doctor would have to describe to a woman the details of a sonogram hours before performing the abortion. The doctor would show the woman the sonogram and play the heartbeat audibly, unless the patient opts out. Even if the patient opts out, the doctor would have to describe the development of the fetus, including its dimensions. Women with fetal abnormalities, or who have been a victim of rape or incest, are given an exception.

Patrick got some much-needed assistance from Sen. Carlos Uresti, D-San Antonio, who agreed to give the measure his support if Patrick accepted his amendments. Uresti's amendments include changing the sonogram time from 24 hours in advance to two hours in advance. 

Liveblog

by Emily Ramshaw
Whitmire takes a jab at Patrick, who is know for his opposition to the 2/3 rule, during lead up to vote to suspend the rules. "It's amazing how the 2/3 rule works, isn't it," Whitmire said.
by Emily Ramshaw
If abortion sonogram legislation comes over from the House, or is taken to conference committee, and it is "fundamentally different" from the Senate version, Patrick vows, he will not accept it.

by Emily Ramshaw
Patrick says he expects — and will accept — an amendment that keeps the abortion sonogram requirement at 2 hours ahead of an abortion, as opposed to 24 hours. This has been a big sticking point, because advocates have suggested it's impossible to expect women to come back twice — and is meant to impede their choice.
by Emily Ramshaw
Patrick, on why women should see sonogram, hear heartbeat: "I want her to have the right to say, 'Wow,' that's my baby."
by Emily Ramshaw
Sen. Wendy Davis reading letters from Texas Medical Association, Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists raising serious concerns about the bill. Davis: "They are saying this is an intrusion in the doctor patient relationship. Have you heard concern this bill intrudes on the doctor patient relationship?"

Patrick responds: "There is no patient relationship between that baby and the doctor."
by Emily Ramshaw
Whitmire to Patrick: "Have you ever held someone's hand, been their friend or relative, prior to them going down and having an abortion... Have you ever had to share the pain, see the heartbreaking experience these women go through as they make that decision?"
by Emily Ramshaw
Whitmire: "Don't think you've cured this bill by putting exceptions in it. What you're doing is making a very tough decision more painful, scarring women in some instances."
by Emily Ramshaw
Patrick: "If those aborted souls were in the gallery right now, what would you say to them?"

Whitmire: Said he wished there was better sex education, contraception options. "I wish the world was perfect, but it's not."
by Emily Ramshaw
Sen. Leticia Van de Putte: "What happens if a woman gets up and refuses to listen?"
Patrick: "Nothing happens. I can't control a woman tuning her doctor out. It's probably a 15-second explanation."
by Emily Ramshaw
Van de Putte: "I imagine you have the votes to suspend or you wouldn't be bringing it up. It is our responsibility to protect that child once that child's born too. When we start debating a budget, let's make sure we don't cut 100,000 vaccines. Let's make sure we've got health insurance. We seem to worship what we cannot see, but as soon as that baby's born, oh no, we don't want to be intrusive. Texas is going to shrink government until it fits in a woman's uterus."
by Emily Ramshaw
Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Grapevine: "There are women in this chamber today who have given life, given birth. There are women who have lost a baby before it was born. There are women in this chamber who have terminated a pregnancy."
by Emily Ramshaw
Uresti — who may be the linchpin here, is speaking.
by Emily Ramshaw
Uresti raises concerns about a 24-hour waiting period -- because he says his district is the largest in Texas, and has no abortion clinic. He is making an amendment, and asks Patrick if he has his word to stand firm on the amendment, in return for his vote to suspend the rules. Patrick says yes, and asks Uresti to be on conference with him.
by Emily Ramshaw
Uresti's amendment will deal with victims of sexual assault and incest. It will also deal with the waiting period. "Striking the 24-hour waiting period, and reducing it to two. I just want to be clear... that we're going to stand firm on the two hours.... As the bill comes back over here... our understanding, our agreement is that we will stand firm."
by Emily Ramshaw
Patrick: "I thought we'd worked a little flexibility into that. If that's your understanding, I will make that commitment."
by Emily Ramshaw
Patrick: "We're not going to materially change this bill... I hope [the House] will take this bill as is."
by Emily Ramshaw
Uresti: When we say it's two hours, more or less, I want to make sure it's two hours.... I want to make sure you will not accept an amendment that will undermine my amendment."

A baby cries in the audience. Patrick: "There's the hand of God right there, the cry of a baby.... This is God's time to pass this bill."
by Emily Ramshaw
Sen. Deuell, a family physician, says: "This is the only medical procedure where the object is to kill a human being."
by Emily Ramshaw
21-10, rule is suspended, abortion sonogram proceeds.
by Emily Ramshaw
Here come the amendments...
by Emily Ramshaw
Uresti's amendment, strikes the 24-hour rule, and changes it to two hours.
by Emily Ramshaw
We're standing at ease for a few minutes here...
by Emily Ramshaw
Here's how the vote to suspend the rules played out:
Those voting against: Davis, Ellis, Gallegos, Hinojosa, Rodriguez, Van de Putte, Watson, Wentworth, West, Whitmire.
by Emily Ramshaw
The only Republican to vote against was Wentworth, who has said he opposes it on civil liberties grounds.
by Emily Ramshaw
The Democrats voting to suspend the rules (meaning they support the legislation) -- Lucio, Uresti, Zaffirini.
by Emily Ramshaw
Uresti's next amendment adds language for women who are victims of sexual assault — but haven't filed a police report because they fear retaliation, etc. Those women can opt out without a police report — or documentation of what happened to them.
by Emily Ramshaw
Wendy Davis raises concerns that there's no specific language in the bill that ensures women know they don't have to see the image, or hear the heartbeat. "How are we ever sure she's made aware of it?" She asks Uresti if he will put some language like that in his amendment — so that it's clear women get the message.
by Emily Ramshaw
Davis offers an amendment that she says is exactly the version of the sonogram bill that passed out of the House last session. The bill makes a sonogram mandatory, but "allows the woman to elect to see or not see the ultrasound, to hear or not hear the heart..., to receive or not receive a verbal explanation of the ultrasound results." She says it solves the problem because it gives women the elective rights to choose.
by Emily Ramshaw
The amendment isn't acceptable to Patrick.
by Emily Ramshaw
22-9, Patrick's motion to table Davis' amendment passes.
by Emily Ramshaw
Wentworth, the only Republican who now opposes the legislation, is speaking now.
by Emily Ramshaw
Wentworth: "I am a hairy legged male who will never be pregnant myself. I am voting for my district. I will continue to vote no."
by Emily Ramshaw
21-10, senate bill 16 just passed to engrossment.
by Emily Ramshaw
The Senate is going to adjourn, literally for one minute, so they can give the bill a final reading. (They recessed yesterday, instead of adjourning, and it has to officially be a "new day" before they can take a final vote on the bill.)
by Emily Ramshaw
They're back, preparing to finally vote. The vote would send the bill on to the House.
by Emily Ramshaw
21-10, abortion sonogram has passed on to the House.
by Emily Ramshaw
And now, here come the statements.

From the TMA's Susan Rudd Bailey: "Regardless of the issue, no legislation should dictate how physicians and patients communicate with one another or what procedures and diagnostic tests must be performed on a given patient. The sanctity of the patient-physician relationship is the foundation of health care in America, and it must be preserved.”
by Emily Ramshaw
From Gov. Rick Perry: “I commend the Texas Senate for quickly passing SB 16, an important achievement in our efforts to protect life. Considering the magnitude of the decision to have an abortion, it is crucial that Texans understand what is truly at stake."
by Emily Ramshaw
From Uresti: "The sonogram bill passed by the Texas Senate will provide women with fundamental medical information about the most important decision they will ever make, without trampling on their rights or intruding on the doctor-patient relationship."

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