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.
The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one.
Patrick responds: "There is no patient relationship between that baby and the doctor."
Whitmire: Said he wished there was better sex education, contraception options. "I wish the world was perfect, but it's not."
Patrick: "Nothing happens. I can't control a woman tuning her doctor out. It's probably a 15-second explanation."
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."
Those voting against: Davis, Ellis, Gallegos, Hinojosa, Rodriguez, Van de Putte, Watson, Wentworth, West, Whitmire.
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.”
Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.