KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Texas Begins Enforcing Strict Abortion Sonogram Law

A U.S. District Court judge says that he can't stop the law from taking effect.

Houston Chronicle: Texas Sonogram Law Goes Into Effect Today
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks said in a ruling Monday that he cannot stop a new sonogram law from taking effect and pointedly suggested that three appellate court judges who overruled him last month had misapplied an earlier U.S. Court decision involving abortion. The state of Texas will begin enforcing the law Tuesday, according to a spokeswoman for the Texas Health Services Commission (Scharrer, 2/6). 

The Dallas Morning News: Judge Lifts Ban On Texas' Abortion Sonogram Law
A federal judge lifted the ban on the state’s new sonogram law Monday but warned in unusually harsh language that he believes that the abortion statute eventually will be seen as trampling on the rights of doctors to speak freely to their patients. The state is still drawing up forms and rules on the law, but many doctors and clinics have anticipated the ruling and already have begun complying with it (Hoppe, 2/6). 

The Texas Tribune: State Health Department Now Enforcing Sonogram Law
According to DSHS memos sent to women's health clinics on Monday: As of October, the abortion doctor, not an ultrasound technician, had to meet the woman seeking an abortion at least 24 hours ahead of the procedure to perform a sonogram, describe the medical risks of an abortion and determine the gestational age of the fetus. ... Starting last month, the abortion provider had to begin displaying the sonogram images, making the heartbeat audible, and providing a verbal explanation of the sonogram results to the woman (Ramshaw, 2/6). 

The Associated Press: US Judge Says He Can't Block Texas Sonogram Law
Doctors who do not comply with the law could lose their medical license, be charged with a misdemeanor and face fines of up to $10,000. In 2011, Sparks struck down provisions that requiring doctors to describe the images and others that required victims of sexual assault or incest to sign statements attesting to that fact. The judge said the state was trying to "permanently brand" those women (Vertuno, 2/6).

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