'Trust Me, I'm a Senator,' Pt. 2
Patrick rejects Shapleigh amendment that would correct inaccurate information in informed consent law
By Jordan Smith, 11:31AM, Fri. May. 1, 2009
After telling Sen. Elliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, he'd sleep on it, Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, rejected an amendment to his ultrasound bill (Senate Bill 182) that would correct information in a state publication that draws a connection between induced abortion and an increased risk for breast cancer.
At issue is a portion of the so-called "Woman's Right to Know" pamphlet which was created in 2003 and is given to women seeking abortion. The pamphlet contains information on fetal development and alleged risks associated with abortion -- including the medically inaccurate suggestion that abortion increases the risk of breast cancer.
The notion that abortion and breast cancer are linked is a favorite ploy of the Right to Life crowd -- whose proponents seem to be the only "source" of information connecting the two. (For example, see the explanation behind the supposed link between the two that is offered by Heritage House '76, one of the leading providers of anti-reproductive choice literature.) On the other side, there are actual medical research studies -- including from the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute -- that report there is in fact no credible link.
"I think the language [of the current] law is very clear," Patrick told his colleagues, "there are some studies that say yes, and some studies that say no," there is no link between abortion and breast cancer. Thus, he said, he simply couldn't accept Shapleigh's amendment -- besides, he noted, he'd promised Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, that he wouldn't make any substantial changes to the ultrasound bill, a dig a Watson's stated opposition to the bill and suspicion that the now scaled back language of SB 182 could be amended in the House to be more intrusive.
The ultrasound bill, as passed this morning by the Senate on a 20-10 vote, requires a doctor to offer a woman an ultrasound, to see the ultrasound, to have it described to her, and to hear a fetal heartbeat, before having an abortion. Previously, the bill required women seeking abortion to undergo the ultrasound whether or not it is medically-necessary. Also part of the Senate version of the bill is a requirement that a woman's doctor not only provide the WRTK pamphlet, but also "explain" its content -- that is, the stages of fetal development -- before performing an abortion.
The House version of the ultrasound bill, filed by Rep. Frank "the Fetus" Corte, R-San Antonio, is still pending in committee.