Yesterday afternoon, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed the state’s controversial sonogram bill into law. The bill passed the legislature earlier this month and will require doctors to perform a sonogram at least 24 hours before an abortion and describe the fetus to the pregnant patient. The Senate sponsor of the bill, Dan Patrick (R) hailed it as “the beginning of the end for abortions,” and said he was so proud that “I may be inspired to wear my cowboy hat” when Perry signed the bill. House sponsor Sid Miller (R) correctly described it as “one of the strongest sonogram bills in the nation.” Facing the state’s worst budget crisis in modern history, Perry dubbed the sonogram bill an “emergency priority” that allowed the legislature to expedite its passage.
Effective Sept. 1, doctors must perform sonograms before abortions, must describe the presence of internal organs or limbs and must make the fetal heartbeat audible. [...]
“Every life lost to abortion is a tragedy we all must work together to prevent, and I commend Rep. Miller and Sen. Patrick for their hard work on this significant legislation,” Perry said.
Meanwhile, the House recently voted to slash $61 million from the state’s family-planning budget, which estimates say will result in an additional 28,000 unwanted pregnancies and 13,000 births in the state every year. Two hundred teenage girls in Texas become pregnant every day.
Although the conservatives who control the House initially refused to include exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and fetal abnormality in the bill, these narrow provisions were ultimately adopted in the final version. Women can choose or refuse to view images and hear the heartbeat of the fetus, but must sign a statement acknowledging the refusal before receiving the sonogram. These will likely be small comforts to the hundreds of thousands of Texas women who are now required by law to be lectured at before they can end a pregnancy.