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Texas Pre-Abortion Ultrasound Law Enforceable: Fed. Judge

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on February 13, 2012 5:05 AM

Opponents of Texas' abortion ultrasound law may need to go all the way to the Supreme Court. In August, District Court Judge Sam Sparks issued a preliminary injunction blocking the law, which requires physicians to show women a picture of their fetus and explain its current stage of development. He said the provisions improperly mandate speech.

But then the 5th Circuit stepped in last month, vacating Judge Sparks' order. The appeals court left the Judge little choice but to allow Texas' abortion ultrasound law to go into effect.

Judge Sparks made this point on Monday when issuing his order. When the 5th Circuit vacated the preliminary injunction, it told the judge that he was expected to follow its ruling closely. He did, but not without making his opinion known.

In allowing Texas' abortion ultrasound law to go forward, he writes "the panel has effectively eviscerated the protections of the First Amendment in the abortion context." He also thinks the 5th Circuit believes "an extended presentation,consisting of graphic images of aborted fetuses, and heartfelt testimonials about the horrors of abortion, would be 'truthful, nonmisleading, and relevant.'"

He goes on to "respectfully disagree" with the appeals court, adding his belief that the Texas abortion ultrasound law is nothing but an attempt "to discourage women from exercising their constitutional rights by making it more difficult for ... physicians to perform abortions."

Nonetheless, Judge Sparks was bound by the appeals court decision. He therefore allowed the Texas abortion ultrasound law to go into effect, as it will likely remain until -- and if -- the U.S. Supreme Court decides to take up its validity.

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