US District Judge Sam Sparks blocked a provision of a Texas anti-abortion law requiring that doctors describe ultrasounds in detail and play the sound of the fetal heartbeat, if a heartbeat is present, to women seeking abortions. Judge Sparks also blocked enforcement of the provision of the law that would revoke doctor’ medical licenses if they refuse to comply with the law. He did not, however, strike down the requirement that doctors perform an ultrasound.
Judge Sparks stated in his decision that the provision of the law that he struck down “compels physicians to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wishes to listen.”
The case was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) on behalf of Texas medical providers challenging Texas’ new abortion ultrasound law, which was scheduled to take effect September 1, in June. The Center for Reproductive Rights claims that the law violates patients’ and doctors’ First Amendment Rights by requiring “physicians to violate basic standards of medical ethics by compelling them to disregard the wishes of patients who do not want to receive this information.” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, stated, “[The] ruling is a huge victory for women in Texas and a clear signal to the state legislature that it went too far when it passed this law. Politicians have no business telling doctors how to practice medicine or meddling in women’s private medical decisions.”
Politico 8/31/11; Center for Reproductive Rights 8/30/11; Huffington Post 8/30/11; Reuters 8/30/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 7/6/11