Avert Your Eyes

Perry declares emergency for ultrasounds before abortion

No doubt there are many serious, pressing issues facing the Texas Legislature this session. Is passing an ultrasound-before-abortion bill one of them? According to Gov. Rick Perry, it definitely is: Speaking before the 2011 Texas Rally for Life last weekend, Perry granted the ultrasound issue "emergency" status, allowing lawmakers to take it up within the session's first 30 days. It's hard to see how the issue – a perennial favorite among the fetus-obsessed at the Capitol – is actually an emergency. But Perry says there's not a minute to lose. "When someone has all the information, the right choice – the choice of life – becomes clear," he said. "Now our Legislature can take fast action on this important bill, because we all know when it comes to saving lives, every second counts."

As it stands, most abortion providers actually do require an ultrasound prior to performing an abortion. The problem that many women's health advocates have is a more principled one: The bills currently filed – House Bill 325 by Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, and Senate Bill 130 by Houston GOP Sen. Dan Patrick – would require that a doctor show the fetal image to the woman (she may avert her eyes) while giving a detailed explanation of fetal development and playing for her the fetal heartbeat. In short, the proposed law is invasive and, frankly, insensitive – another of many legislative proposals over the years presuming that women seeking abortion do not take the decision seriously but are nonetheless perfectly fit to rear children. Now there's an issue in serious need of a solution.

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