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06.13.11 - (PRESS RELEASE) Today, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a class action lawsuit against Texas’ new abortion ultrasound law on behalf of Texas medical providers performing abortions and their patients. The law prohibits a woman from getting an abortion unless the doctor providing the abortion performs an ultrasound on the woman, takes steps to show and describe the ultrasound images to her, and plays the sound of the fetal heart. The doctor must personally place the images where the woman can see them, and describe the images in detail, regardless of her wishes. The woman must then wait at least 24-hours before she can obtain an abortion (the waiting period is two-hours for women who live more than 100 miles from an abortion provider). With the enactment of this law, Texas joins Oklahoma in having the most extreme ultrasound requirements in the country.
“This law barges in on the doctor-patient relationship” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “When you go to the doctor, you expect to be given information that is relevant to your particular medical decisions and circumstances, not to be held hostage and subjected to an anti-choice agenda.”
The Center argues that the ultrasound requirements violate the First Amendment rights of both the doctor and the patient by forcing physicians to deliver politically-motivated communications to women, regardless of their wishes. The Center also argues that the law discriminates against women by subjecting them to paternalistic “protections” not imposed on men.
“This law is patronizing to women in Texas. It is based on outdated stereotypes that women are too immature or too incompetent to make important decisions,” said Northup. “It’s as if the politician has charged into the doctor’s office and told the woman, ‘Honey, you just don’t understand what you are doing. Let me explain it to you and tell you what to do.’”
In addition, the Center argues that the ultrasound requirements violate basic principles of medical ethics and serve no medical purpose.
The Center filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Austin, on behalf of Texas Medical Providers Performing Abortion Services, a plaintiff class of physicians and medical facilities that provide abortions. The class members bring the suit on behalf of themselves and their patients seeking abortion. The class is represented by plaintiffs Metropolitan Ob-Gyn, P.A., D/B/A Reproductive Services of San Antonio and Dr. Alan Braid.