By James Eng
“Fewer abortions? Better-informed patients? Insulted women? The impact of a controversial new Texas law that requires women to have a sonogram – and listen to a description of the fetus as well as its heartbeat – at least 24 hours before they can get an abortion is far from clear.
Texas state health officials began enforcing the sonogram provision – which critics say is the most extreme sonogram-related law in the nation – on Tuesday. Reaction has been decidedly mixed. Although the sonogram law technically went into effect last fall, the state didn’t begin enforcing its requirements until Tuesday, when the Texas Department of State Health Services posted guidelines for abortion providers. Facilities that fail to comply face penalties of up to $1,000 per violation per day. Julie Rikelman, an attorney with the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which sued unsuccessfully to block the Texas legislation, calls it ‘the most extreme ultrasound-related law that is being enforced in the United States.’ ‘I think the experience of providers has been that women just find it offensive because the presumption of the law is somehow women don’t know what they’re doing and need to be forced to consider information even if it’s not relevant to them. It’s very demeaning to them,’ she says.”