AUSTIN, TEXAS, August 31, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A federal judge on Tuesday struck down key provisions of Texas’ new ultrasound law, imposing an injunction against its enforcement.
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks, a George H.W. Bush appointee, called the new law “unwise” in his published opinion, ruling that the measure violates the free speech rights of both doctors and patients.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, who had signed the new ultrasound law in May, criticized the ruling in a statement Tuesday, saying, “Every life lost to abortion is a tragedy and today’s ruling is a great disappointment to all Texans who stand in defense of life.”
“This important sonogram legislation ensures that every Texas woman seeking an abortion has all the facts about the life she is carrying and understands the devastating impact of such a life-changing decision,” he said.
In his opinion Judge Sparks upheld the law’s requirement that sonograms be performed on pregnant women seeking abortions. However, he struck down the requirement that doctors describe the ultrasound images to patients and that women hear the descriptions.
Sparks questioned whether the Texas Legislature was trying to “permanently brand” women with the requirement that a copy of their informed consent be inserted in their medical records.
“Given the nature of the certification and the Act’s retention requirements, it is difficult to avoid the troubling conclusion that the Texas Legislature either wants to permanently brand women who choose to get abortions, or views these certifications as potential evidence to be used against physicians and women,” he said.
The Center for Reproductive Rights of New York, which sued to block the ultrasound law, lauded Tuesday’s ruling.
The ruling is a “huge victory for women in Texas and a clear signal to the state Legislature that it went too far when it passed this law,” said its president Nancy Northup.
Texas state representative Sid Miller, the author of the ultrasound law, called the judge’s ruling a “temporary setback,” conceding that the ruling affected “pretty important parts” of the law.
“We definitely thought the bill would withstand the scrutiny of the courts,” Miller told LifeSiteNews. “We looked at other states and thought that we avoided the pitfalls.”
“(Texas Attorney General) Greg Abbott will definitely appeal (the ruling),” Miller said, suggesting that Tuesday’s ruling is only the beginning of a “lengthy” court process.
Nearly 81,000 abortions were performed in Texas in 2007, the last year recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Texas had the 13th highest rate of women having an abortion that year.