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Texas Abortion Law: Suit Challenges Sonogram Rule

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on June 15, 2011 6:47 AM

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit in federal court on Monday, challenging Texas' abortion law requiring a sonogram, which is slated to go into effect on September 1.

The law, which mandates that, prior to receiving an abortion, a woman must undergo a sonogram and sit through an explanation of the fetus' current stage of development, is being challenged on the grounds that it infringes upon a woman's reproductive rights and violates physicians' rights against compelled speech.

Supporters of Texas' abortion sonogram law are not surprised by the lawsuit, reports The Dallas Morning News. In fact, they claim that they wrote the legislation so that women were still given some choice.

While Texas women must have a sonogram, they cannot be forced to look at the image. However, it appears as though they still must listen to a doctor explain the image regardless of whether they wish to do so.

The Center for Reproductive Rights maintains that this is not enough to save the legislation.

It has argued that forcing doctors to provide "politically motivated communications" against the wishes of a patient places doctors in a tough position, reports the paper. If they refuse to do so, they risk their medical license. However, providing unwanted medical information is unethical.

Additionally, such a requirement is compelled speech, which violates the First Amendment.

Similar abortion laws are being challenged across the country, particularly in South Dakota where the free speech argument is also being made.

However, as in that case, it's unclear how a court will rule on Texas' abortion law. Abortion law has become increasingly restrictive since the Supreme Court's 2007 decision in Gonzales v. Carhart, a case that many believe signaled a new era in abortion jurisprudence.

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