Texas Legislature Passes Bill to Require Sonogram Before Abortion

AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Legislature passed a bill Thursday that would require doctors to perform a sonogram before conducting an abortion.

Gov. Rick Perry declared the bill to be emergency legislation at the beginning of the year, and it now goes to him for signature. The proposed law requires doctors to conduct a sonogram at least 24 hours before an abortion and to provide the woman with the opportunity to see the results and hear the fetal heartbeat. The doctor is also required to describe what the sonogram shows, to include the existence of legs, arms and internal organs.

An exception to the waiting period was made for women who live more than 100 miles from the nearest abortion provider. In cases of incest, rape or fetal abnormality, the woman does not have to hear a description of the fetus.

Proponents said the law is necessary to make sure women understand what an abortion entails. Opponents say the measure would interfere in the doctor-patient relationship.

The bill passed both the House and the Senate with a two-thirds majority, meaning the law will go into effect immediately after the governor signs it.

State Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, said the legislation is among the toughest sonogram requirements in the nation. Only three other states require a sonogram for all women seeking an abortion.