Anti-abortion activists rally at Texas Capitol

2/10/11

AUSTIN, Texas — Anti-abortion activists rallied at the Texas Capitol on Thursday and lobbied lawmakers for tougher restrictions on abortions.

The rally comes the day after a state Senate committee approved a bill that would require doctors to perform a sonogram before performing an abortion. The bill requires doctors to explain what they see to the woman while they perform the sonogram. If passed, doctors also would have to describe any visible internal organs, legs or arms. The woman would also have a chance to see the image and listen to the fetal heartbeat.

In a substantial revision made late Wednesday, the amended bill provides exemptions in cases where there are fatal fetal abnormalities or women or who are victims of incest or sexual assault. The bill now goes to the full Senate. Lawmakers have introduced three similar bills in the House.

Gov. Rick Perry declared the sonogram bill emergency legislation last month, which allows lawmakers to begin debate early.

“We ended up with a bill yesterday that was better than anything we could have imagined,” said state Sen. Dan Patrick, a Houston Republican. “We’re on the right side of God and on the right side of history.”

There are three versions of the sonogram bill in the House. In addition to the Senate bill’s requirements, all would require the doctor to display the sonogram image to the woman and play the fetal heartbeat, and the woman could not opt-out. The House bills don’t provide for any exemptions.

Opponents complain that the bill injects the government into how a doctor advises his or her patient. Doctors say sonograms are already standard procedure before performing non-emergency abortions.

So far Texas lawmakers have filed 22 bills relating to abortion. They range from prohibitions on some health plans from paying for abortion-related services to a “Choose Life” specialty license plate.

Rep. David Simpson, a Republican from Longview, told almost 200 anti-abortion activists that he needed their prayers to pass a bill that would forbid local governments from using taxpayer money to pay for abortions. They planned to spend Thursday afternoon visiting lawmakers’ offices.

“May the Lord see civil government do what He intended it to do,” Simpson said.

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