The 5th Circuit’s three judge panel overruled Texas Judge Sam Sparks’ decision to block a mandatory ultrasound law that forces doctors to perform a pre-abortion ultrasound and provide details about the embryo or fetus, which Sparks decided violated the first amendment and constituted “government-mandated speech.”
Chief Justice Edith Jones ruled that opponents of the law “failed to demonstrate constitutional flaws” in the statute.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America CEO Cecile Richards responded to the ruling via statement:
“On behalf of all of our patients, Planned Parenthood is outraged by this law and the subsequent court ruling. Politicians forcing doctors to use an ultrasound for political — and not medical — reasons is the very definition of government intrusion. This is a terrible day for Texas women and their families, and this decision sets an abhorrent precedent as state legislatures across the country convene for 2012 sessions.
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“Physicians providing abortion care in Texas see women who are facing a wide range of circumstances. This law prevents them from providing victims of rape and incest, or women who are facing the loss of a much-wanted pregnancy, with the most compassionate and medically appropriate care according to their needs.
“This law has no basis in medicine — it is about the personal prejudice of politicians and judges substituting for what should remain the judgment of women and their doctors. This decision comes as state legislatures across the country are considering bills to end women’s access to preventive care, including birth control and cancer screenings, as well as bills or ballot measures that could make common methods of birth control, treatment for ectopic pregnancies, and all abortion care illegal.
Doctors will now be required to explain in detail “the size of the fetus, body features and presence of internal organs,” to the woman about to undergo an abortion, who then has to wait 24 hours before having the procedure, or at least 2 hours if she lives over 100 miles from the clinic. Women are not allowed to opt out of the description unless they have been victims of rape or incest, or if there are fetal abnormalities.