Judge Blocks Perry-Supported Law Forcing Pre-Abortion Sonogram

Making women listen to fetal heartbeat won't fly, says judge

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A federal judge Tusday temporarily blocked a Texas law forcing women to get a sonogram and listen to the heartbeat of the fetus they're about to terminate before an abortion, Reuters's Jim Forsyth reports. The law was a key piece of Texas Governor Rick Perry's legislative agenda. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruled the burden the law placed on doctors was unconstitutional, writing that the "act compels physicians to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity, and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wish to listen."

The ruling also prevents Texas from punishing doctors for not complying with the law, which also mandated that a woman seeking an abortion get a sonogram 24 hours before the medical procedure, or 2 hours before if they live more than 100 miles away from a clinic providing the service. Sparks pointed to a requirement that women put in writing why they don't want to listen to a fetal heartbeat, saying, "The Court need not belabor the obvious by explaining why, for instance, women who are pregnant as a result of sexual assault or incest may not wish to certify that fact in writing, particularly if they are too afraid of retaliation to even report the matter to police."
Texas's attorney general has filed a motion to appeal the ruling; Perry said he has "full confidence" in the efforts to appeal, the Houston Chronicle reports.
In his 11 years as governor, Perry has back at least six major antiabortion bills, the Texas Tribune's Emily Ramshaw reports, and he has steadily grown more forceful in his opposition to the medical procedure over time.
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