Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Federal judge strikes down Texas anti-abortion law

A federal judge has struck down parts of a new Texas law that requires doctors to do sonograms before providing abortions.  The ruling claims the law violates the free speech rights of both patients and doctors.

AUSTIN, TX (Catholic Online) - U.S. District Judge, Sam Sparks did uphold the requirement that the sonograms be performed, but another, more controversial part of the law which required doctors to describe the images of the babies to women and for the women to listen, has been ruled unconstitutional. 

The law did make exceptions for women who were the victims of rape and incest, or whose babies suffered from irreversible abnormalities. 

The law, now partially eviscerated, will take affect on Thursday. 

Supporters of the new law have explained that many women who seek abortions do not fully understand what an abortion entails--the taking of a baby's life. By requiring the sonograms and for the doctors to describe them to the patients, they argue women will have a better understanding about the choice they are making. The hoped-for result will be fewer abortions. 

Those opposing the law claim it requires doctors to describe the baby's features which could be forcing them to say something against their will. They argue doing so could violate ethical medical practices which mandate that doctors must respect a patient's autonomy and act in the patient's best interest, which could conceivably include performing an abortion. 

Sparks explained in his ruling that the law, "compels physicians to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wish to listen." 

He also indicated that he did not like the provision requiring victims of rape and incest to sign a form claiming that they were victimized in order to obtain an exemption under the law. Finally, Sparks struck down the penalties for doctors who broke the law, which including losing their license and criminal prosecution.

Texas Governor Rick Perry indicated his opposition to the ruling. In a statement released by his office, Perry wrote, " Every life lost to abortion is a tragedy and today's ruling is a great disappointment to all Texans who stand in defense of life." Perry strongly advocated for the law earlier in the year.

Texas authorities say they plan to appeal the ruling.

© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.

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