The Department of State Health Services has released guidelines for women's health clinics and will begin enforcing Texas' abortion sonogram law, agency officials said Monday night.
"We'll be providing technical assistance along the way, but facilities need to follow the law, and we’ll be checking up on that during our facility inspections," DSHS spokeswoman Carrie Williams said.
According to DSHS memos sent to women's health clinics on Monday:
— As of October, the abortion doctor, not an ultrasound technician, had to meet the woman seeking an abortion at least 24 hours ahead of the procedure to perform a sonogram, describe the medical risks of an abortion and determine the gestational age of the fetus. If a woman lives more than 100 miles from an abortion provider, the 24-hour requirement becomes two hours.
— Starting last month, the abortion provider had to begin displaying the sonogram images, making the heartbeat audible, and providing a verbal explanation of the sonogram results to the woman.
— Other requirements include giving the pregnant woman a list of agencies that offer free sonograms, but not abortions.
— A pregnant women can choose not to view the sonogram or hear the heartbeat, but she can only opt out of hearing the description of the fetus only if she certifies in writing that she was the victim of sexual assault or incest, or that the fetus has an irreversible medical condition.
"We understand that this affects the facilities and the women who are going there for services," Williams said, "and we want to make sure everyone is well-informed about this."