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01.17.12 - Utterly disappointing news came out of Texas last week: A federal appeals court decided that women can't be trusted with decisions about their reproductive health and future.
In an unprecedented ruling, the court gave the green light to a law that forces doctors to show ultrasound images to women seeking an abortion, describe those images to them in detail, and to play the sound of the fetal heartbeat—whether the women want to receive this information or not. The decision brings Texas women closer to a reproductive rights landscape that is demeaning, discriminatory, and intrusive.
The panel of judges argues that the requirements are intended only to make sure that women make more informed choices before they terminate a pregnancy. But any law that makes doctors force-feed a woman information that she doesn't want—even when the doctors themselves believe it's inappropriate—isn't really meant to inform her, but to harass her and prevent her from making the decision on her own.
Women's voices and real-life experiences were noticeably absent from the court decision—with virtually no recognition that women are perfectly capable of weighing their own choices. But now women in Texas and all over the country are stepping up and speaking out.
In just a few days, more than 8,000 people—and counting—have sent letters to the editors of all the major newspapers in Texas, voicing supreme disappointment with the affirmation of one of the most extreme ultrasound laws in the nation.
We challenged the law soon after it came out of the Texas legislature in 2011—launching our Trust Texas Women campaign at the same time. We made our case to a federal judge that this was a violation of doctors' and patients' First Amendment rights as spelled out in our Constitution. And he agreed.
But this time around, the panel of judges on the appeals court dismissed the First Amendment issues at hand, choosing instead to make an unsupported connection to Planned Parenthood v. Casey—a 20-year-old Supreme Court ruling that upheld mandatory delay law and counseling requirements in Pennsylvania, but didn't allow for forcing doctors to provide superfluous information to patients who may not want to hear it.
The Center for Reproductive Rights does not consider this ruling a defeat. It is a setback. Until this ruling, every court that has reviewed a similarly intrusive law has deemed it unconstitutional. We are evaluating all available means to block this law and have no intention of backing down from this fight.
You can help. Join the thousands of people who have already declared their dissent with this extreme law. Tell the world that Texas women deserve trust and the fundamental reproductive rights that these judges have so easily ripped away.
LINKS TO PRESS
Women Are the Victims of This Court Decision
The Caller-Times, Corpus Christi
Abortion Law Remains in Limbo, Even After Ruling
The Associated Press