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5th Circuit Court Hears Texas Ultrasound Law

Robin Marty

The three judge panel will decide if the injunction against forcing doctors to describe pre-abortion ultrasounds to their patients should be dropped.

A U.S. circuit court is reviewing Texas Judge Sam Spark’s ruling that blocked a mandatory ultrasound law from going fully into effect that year.

Judge Sparks ruled that although the state could require all women to have an ultrasound prior to having an abortion, they could not mandate what a doctor must say to the woman, or how he or she must describe what is seen in the image.

The state has appealed, saying Sparks “abused his discretion.”

Via the Houston Chronicle:

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[Texas Solicitor General Jonathan] Mitchell said the state’s interest in protecting “fetal life after viability” through reasonable regulation trumps any free-speech claims.

“The statute is as clear as can be that patients may decline to view sonogram images and may decline to listen to the fetal heartbeat,” Mitchell said.

The judges pressed Rikelman to explain how law exceeds the state’s authority to regulate the medical profession.

“How do you draw the line?” Judge Patrick Higginbotham asked.

“We would draw the line at what is medically necessary,” Rikelman responded. “The government shouldn’t be able to interject itself in our conversations with physicians in that way.”

The circuit judges have not given any indication of when they will provide their ruling.

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