Court Upholds Ultrasound Law

Appeals court says state's new anti-abortion law is reasonable

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Jan. 10 overturned a lower court decision enjoining enforcement of certain provisions of Texas' new ultrasound-before-abortion law. In a unanimous decision, Chief Judge Edith Jones wrote that the Texas law is a reasonable extension of informed consent laws. The Center for Reproductive Rights, which has challenged the constitutionality of the law on behalf of a number of Texas doctors, charges that its mandatory nature offends constitutional rights. The law requires women to undergo an ultrasound 24 hours before termination and also requires doctors to display the sonogram, make the fetal heartbeat audible, and describe the fetal development to the woman. A woman may choose not to view the image or listen to the heartbeat – apparently by averting her eyes and sticking her fingers in her ears, the only clear way to avoid sight or sound during an invasive procedure that utilizes a transvaginal probe – but still must listen to the description of fetal development unless she avers that she was a victim of incest or rape (and has reported it) or can prove that her fetus has a fatal abnormality. The case will return to federal district court for further hearing; the larger case challenging the law is still pending, and there are additional claims about constitutionality that have yet to be considered. Whether the CRR will appeal the three-judge panel's ruling to the full 5th Circuit is still unclear. (For more, see "Fifth Circuit Approves Mandatory Ultrasound," Newsdesk blog, Jan. 11.)

Got something to say? The Chronicle welcomes opinion pieces on any topic from the community. Submit yours now at

Read more of the Chronicle's decades of reproductive rights reporting here.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More ultrasound law
Ultrasound Suit Loses Ground
Ultrasound Suit Loses Ground
Sparks says his hands are tied after 5th Circuit finds ultrasound law constitutional

Jordan Smith, Feb. 17, 2012

Ultrasound Reimposed by Appeals Court
Ultrasound Reimposed by Appeals Court
Edith Jones and the 5th Circuits rule mandatory ultrasounds constitutional

Jordan Smith, Jan. 27, 2012

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

Eighth Inmate of the Year Set to Die
Eighth Inmate of the Year Set to Die
Eighth inmate of the year set to die

May 9, 2014


ultrasound law, reproductive rights, women's health, abortion, Edith Jones, Sam Sparks, Center for Reproductive Rights, CRR, war on women, informed consent, Rick Perry, Legislature

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle