By Daniel C. Houston
A bill that would require abortion providers to present pregnant women with sonograms, heartbeat audio and other detailed information about their fetuses before performing an abortion is nearing a vote in the Texas Senate.
S.B. 16 passed in the State Affairs Committee Wednesday and has been pronounced an emergency priority by Gov. Rick Perry, said Logan Spence, chief of staff for the bill’s author, Sen. Dan Patrick. This status means the bill will likely come to the Senate floor for consideration in the next few weeks.
Spence said Patrick’s bill is motivated by the testimony of women who did not obtain access to their sonograms at crisis pregnancy centers. The bill itself would give the pregnant woman the right not to view the sonogram or listen to the fetus’s heartbeat, if she so chose.
“They were doing these sonograms a majority of the time,” Spence said.
“They just weren’t showing the sonograms to the women. The bill guarantees the right of the woman to see it if she wants to, not that she has to.”
But some students, like Houston sophomore Dannie Dinh, public relations officer for Baylor Democrats, think the bill is an example of the state Legislature ignoring other priorities and expanding its control over women’s privacy.
“I think the entire bill is just an insult to me as a woman,” Dinh said. “I think that’s an intrusion between the doctor-patient relationship. At the same time, it’s being proposed by legislators who are predominantly male, trying to proscribe what women should do.”
Dr. John Pisciotta, professor of economics and director of Pro-Life Waco, an anti-abortion activist group, said most women who undergo abortion ultimately regret their decision, and passing S.B. 16 would help avoid this outcome.
“The informed consent would create a bonding, a recognition, of the reality, which is the humanity of the unborn,” Pisciotta said. “Later on, they have a recognition: My goodness, I had a baby, and I allowed them to kill my baby.”
Pisciotta said organizations that provide abortions only give pregnant women access to doctors when the procedure itself is performed, and said he believes they intentionally hide relevant information, like sonograms, from the women.
“There is no doctor-patient relationship; it’s an assembly line,” Pisciotta said. “There is a relationship, but it is a relationship of deception, so that needs to be righted.”
While Spence stopped short of saying the bill was motivated by the desire to decrease abortions across the state, Patrick is an anti-abortion conservative who would be pleased if the number of abortions dropped as a result of his legislative efforts.
“I think Senator Patrick would like to see fewer abortions, and if that’s the effect it has then he would be happy with that,” Spence said.
Dinh said Republicans who support this legislation but argue against government influence in other areas of public policy are being hypocritical.
“With a lot of conservatives saying that there should be less government regulations, that the national government is becoming too controlling over every aspect of our lives, this on top of that is just very contradictory,” Dinh said.