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Abortion procedures to include mandatory sonogram

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Dec. 30, 2010 at 6:30 a.m.

Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria

SONOGRAM BILLSSenate Bill 130, filed by Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, and House Bill 201 filed by Rep. Geanie Morrison would require physicians to provide no-cost sonograms to pregnant women prior to an abortion procedure.

Included in the sonogram, medical professionals must verbally explain the images and make the heartbeat audible.

The legislation also requires face-to-face consultations between patient and physician.

The legislation will be introduced in the 2011 legislative session beginning Jan. 11.

LEGISLATIVE PREVIEW SCHEDULE

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Dec. 25: Sen. Glenn Hegar

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If Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, and Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, have their way in 2011, Texas will require health care facilities to provide no-cost sonograms for pregnant women before an abortion procedure.

"I am very excited about the prospects of this critical bill in the upcoming legislative session," Patrick said. "Rep. Morrison is a passionate pro-life legislator who will ensure the sonogram bill finally passes in the House of Representatives."

Senate Bill 130 and House Bill 201, also known as the "Sonogram Bills," have been jointly filed by Patrick and Morrison, and are slated to be introduced in the 2011 legislative session next month.

Similar sonogram legislation passed in the Senate in 2007 and 2009, but failed to pass in the House both years.

The primary objective of the bills is to ensure that women have been wholly informed before terminating a pregnancy, they said.

"The legislation requires that women have all the information before the procedure takes place," Morrison said. "Sonograms are already being done, but the legislation makes it mandatory for women to be given the choice to see the sonogram."

Patrick agreed the sonogram legislation is necessary because it may assist pregnant women with their decision to abort.

"A sonogram provides the most complete 'picture' of a woman's pregnancy, which makes it one of the most vital pieces of information that a woman needs when deciding whether or not to seek an abortion," Patrick said.

Included in the legislation, health care professionals must provide a verbal explanation of the sonogram images in a "manner understandable to a layperson," as well as "a medical description of the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity, and the presence of external members and internal organs."

They will also be required to make the heartbeat audible.

In addition to a mandatory sonogram, the bills require health care facilities to perform face-to-face consultations with patients before an abortion.

"This legislation would require mandatory consultations in person, not over the phone, or by recorded message, at least 24 hours prior to the procedure," Morrison said. "We just want women to be informed about the procedure and the short-term and long-term health risks. Any type of procedure you get, even if you have dental surgery, you should talk to a physician and see what the risks are."

Patrick and Morrison are optimistic the legislation will finally garner the votes it needs to pass through the House and Senate in the spring.

"I anticipate that due to the urgency of several issues coming up this session, the House will be better prepared to quickly pass priority issues, such as the Sonogram Bill," Patrick said. "I also believe that Rep. Geanie Morrison will be an excellent advocate for this bill."

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