The Austin Chronicle

Judge Overturns Abortion Bill Provisions

By Jordan Smith, August 24, 2009, 10:31am, Newsdesk

A federal judge in South Dakota has done what public health and elected officials in Texas have yet to do: Strike down provisions of the state's "informed consent" for abortion law that are a matter of opinion and not medical fact.

In the case of South Dakota, Judge Karen Schreier ruled Aug. 20 that it was lawful for doctors to tell women seeking abortion that the procedure will terminate the "life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being," (potentially troublesome in the fetus-as-person debate,) but struck down language claiming that abortion increases the likelihood of suicide and suicidal thoughts and that it breaks the "existing relationship" a woman has with a fetus. Those statements, Schreier ruled, are "untruthful and misleading."

In Texas, untruthful and misleading statements remain in the Woman's Right to Know pamphlet provided by the state health department -- specifically, despite all medical facts to the contrary, the state's WRTK pamphlet tells women that abortion may increase the risk of breast cancer.

Meanwhile, also last week, Oklahoma Co. District Judge Vicki Robertson ruled that an omnibus abortion bill that the state passed last year (over veto of Gov. Brad Henry) runs afoul of the state constitution's rules regarding germaneness by violating the single-subject rule. The bill, which was challenged before taking effect, mandated ultrasound for women seeking abortion -- much like Texas lawmakers have been trying to do, led by Houston GOP Sen. Dan Patrick -- but also put restrictions on emergency contraceptives and allowed doctors to refuse on religious grounds from being involved in abortion procedures.

Texas lawmakers have tried to restrict access to emergency contraceptives, but have not been successful. Ditto for ultrasound, which inched closer to passage this year. Now perennial favorites with the far-right set, its a good bet they'll be back in some form or another during the Lege's 2011 session.

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