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Fifth Circuit Says Sonogram Law Fine

Overturns Judge Sparks' injunction

By Jordan Smith, 12:57PM, Tue. Jan. 10, 2012

The war on women continues
The war on women continues
Illustration by Jason Stout

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today issued a ruling that overturns district Judge Sam Sparks' decision to put on hold implementation of most of the state's controversial ultrasound-before-abortion law.

Sparks had enjoined the measure from taking effect while a lawsuit challenging its constitutionality is pending. The Fifth Circuit's ruling changes that, meaning abortion providers will have to be ready to implement the law, which on paper took effect last October.

According to the Fifth Circuit, forcing a woman to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion is merely a part of ensuring "informed consent" to abortion. Moreover, according to the ruling, forcing her to view a sonogram image and to listen to both a fetal heartbeat and a simultaneous verbal description of fetal development delivered by her doctor is just fine too – if she doesn't want to see it she can close her eyes, and if she doesn't want to hear it she can apparently stick her fingers in her ears.

Not surprisingly, Gov. Rick Perry thinks this is a great development. Women's health advocates – including the doctors who brought suit to stop the law – don't agree.

Read background on the lawsuit here and here.

More later on the meat of the opinion and on what will come next in the legal battle.

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