SB 16 - Dan Patrick's Sonogram Bill

Break the egg of a turtle or bird on the Endangered Species List and no one will question whether the fetus or embryo was a leather backed turtle or a pelican. But according to op-eds in the Houston Chronicle, the Austin American Statesman, and many more newspapers and blogs, it's a 'religious' idea that healthy babies in healthy mothers are human enough to be protected from intentional, elective killing before birth.

Under Senate Bill 16, proposed by Senator Dan Patrick, (and the companion in the House, HB abortionists will have to perform an ultrasound, make it available for viewing and hearing, and explain what he or she finds on the test, at least 2 hours before performing the abortion. Contrary to the outcries in op-eds and editorials, no one is being forced to purchase or view anything.

One of the provisions in place since the 2003 Woman’s Right to Know legislation is the requirement that the abortionist (or his agent -- a nurse, tech or recording in real life) offer the woman a list of free and accessible assistance available in her area. The abortionist will now include a list of places where the woman can get free ultrasounds. Most (if not all) of the Pregnancy Assistance Centers all over Texas offer free ultrasounds, so there should be plenty of resources.

Furthermore, as noted in another article, the (non-physician) Communications Director of the Austin area Planned Parenthood strongly asserts that it is “standard of care” for the abortionist to perform an ultrasound . I agree that it would be bad practice not to do an ultrasound in order to determine the gestational age (how old the baby is) and to assist in the introduction of instruments into the uterus.

Way back in the '60's and '70's, women fought for the right to meet our doctors while fully clothed, to have full access to our medical information, and to be fully informed. The opponents to regulation of abortion would compartmentalize “reproductive health” and treat it differently from other medical procedures! They condescendingly model the worst patronizing attitude of the past and assume that women and girls contemplating abortion are too fragile or incompetent to benefit from full, informed consent.

We also fought for Texas’ laws and regulations that require special, specific informed consent prior to hysterectomies and sterilization. There are also specific forms for radiation therapy and electric shock therapy.

Unfortunately, at the abortionists’ office, the ultrasound is not really done for the benefit of the woman - and certainly not for her child's benefit. The practice at the abortion clinic is to do the ultrasound only after part of the abortion fee is paid and the woman or girl is undressed and in the prep or procedure room. (Don’t forget that abortions can charge more if the child is more than 10 or 12 weeks old.) Some women who have asked to see the ultrasound screen have told us that they are refused the information. The law will ensure that the information is available before the woman is naked, knees in the stirrups, and too sedated to know what is going on or too intimidated by the process to ask.

What would it take for each of those who oppose this law to consider these children of tomorrow human enough to deserve not to be killed? What would it take to convince them that women and girls deserve the same sort of full informed consent that is provided before a heart surgery? Can you imagine having this discussion if the subject were a cardiothoracic surgeon and a (much more invasive) heart catheterization prior to bypass surgery?

Yes, we would like women to change their minds when they see their child and hear his or her heartbeat. But isn't it patronizing on the part of the abortionists to assume that women are too fragile to own their own medical information or to benefit from full, informed consent?

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