A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Rights group asks judge to block Texas abortion law requiring sonogram

The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) [advocacy website] filed a motion for a preliminary injunction [text, PDF] Thursday to block a new Texas requiring a woman to have a sonogram with the doctor describing the fetus in detail before having an abortion [JURIST news archive]. The CRR filed a class action lawsuit [JURIST report] in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas [official website] earlier last month challenging HB 15 [text; materials] and is now seeking to block its implementation, which is set to take place in September. The CRR argues that without an injunction the law will cause irreparable harm to physician facilities providing the services and to woman seeking abortions and seeks to enjoin its enforcement until a decision on the merits is made. The lawsuit claims that by forcing the physician to deliver government-mandated materials to the patient, it violates the First Amendment [text] rights of both the patient and of the physician. It forces patients to hear what CRR claims is politically-motivated speech before making a decision and forces physicians to deliver unwanted information. The complaint further argues that the law violates the Equal Protection Clause [Cornell LII Backgrounder] "by subjecting women to burdens not imposed on men; by perpetuating patronizing and paternalistic stereotypes of women as in need of special 'protections' and unable to make medical decisions on their own; and by enforcing the notion that a woman's primary and proper role is that of mother."

Texas Governor Rick Perry [official website] signed HB 15 into law [JURIST report] in May. It requires doctors to conduct a vaginal ultrasound and display the images at least 24 hours prior to an abortion, and strips them of their medical licenses should they fail to do so. The law also requires doctors to provide "a simultaneous verbal explanation of the results of the live, real-time sonogram images, including a medical description of the dimensions of the embryo or fetus, the presence of cardiac activity, and the presence of arms, legs, external members, and internal organs." The Texas law is one of a number of state laws passed recently attempting to restrict abortion rights. Last week, the CRR won a preliminary injunction in the US District Court for the District of Kansas [official website] to block a Kansas regulation [SB36] requiring clinics within the state to obtain a license to perform abortions. Earlier last week, a judge for the US District Court for the District of South Dakota [official website] issued a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] blocking a South Dakota abortion regulation [HB 1217] requiring a 72-hour waiting period. Multiple states have enacted to ban abortions after 20 weeks, when some studies suggest a fetus can begin feeling pain, including Missouri, Indiana, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kansas and Idaho [JURIST reports].

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.