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article imageTexas Senate passes abortion sonogram measure, now goes to House

By Lynn Herrmann     Feb 18, 2011 in Politics
Austin - The Texas Senate on Thursday passed a controversial measure that would require women seeking an abortion to first have a sonogram and then listen to their doctor give a description of the fetus. The bill is now moving to the state House for approval.
State Bill 16 breezed through the Republican-controlled Texas Senate on Thursday and immediately drew criticism from the bill’s opponents while Republicans defended a measure that would require women to listen to their doctor’s description - including cardiac activity, limbs and internal organs - of a fetus.
The mostly party line vote, 21-10, also included three Democrats: Sens. Eddie Lucio of Brownsville, Judith Zaffirini of Laredo and Carlos Uresti of San Antonio.
The bill’s author, Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said: “This bill is about a woman’s right to know. Because once that choice is made, it can never be reversed if the have the abortion,” according to the Houston Chronicle.
Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, noted the state’s nature to forget about newborn babies is one of the problems with the bill and that “it’s our responsibility to protect that child once the child is born, too,” the Chronicle reports.
“We seem to worship what we cannot see, but as soon as that baby is born, oh no, government doesn't want to be intrusive,” Van de Putte added. Referencing conservative Grover Norquist’s comment on cutting the government to a size able to “drown it in a bathtub, Van de Putte said: “Texas is going to shrink government until it fits into a woman’s uterus,” the San Antonio Express News reports.
The controversial bill’s passage in the Senate immediately sparked a firestorm of controversial comments, including a reference to God and “hairy-legged” men.
Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, the lone Republican to vote against the measure said: “I personally am a hairy-legged male who will never be pregnant,” the Chronicle noted.
Others also took a measured approach. Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston, while opposed to abortion said government officials should not impose laws telling a woman “how to govern her body,” according to the Chronicle.
Another Demcrat, Sen. John Whitmire, also from Houston, agreed with Gallegos. “Just because I represent a pro-choice view does not mean that I'm pro-abortion. It means as a father of two daughters, I want them to control their own bodies and make their own intelligent and rational decisions,” MySA reports.
Patrick’s closing comments in the Senate on the abortion bill referenced God on several occasions, including scripture: “‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you’. He knows all of us,” he said, according to MySA.
Kyleen Wright, president of the Arlington-based Texas for Life Coalition, said: “This is about making sure women have all the information available to them. They can study the information ... before they make a forever decision. It’s very pro-woman,” the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports.
Some say the bill could intimidate women considering abortion services.
“Having a sonogram so you can see the fetus is the antithesis of what I hear Republicans spouting out, that government should not regulate our lives,” said Steve Maxwell, head of the Tarrant Democratic Party. “Why are we not focusing our energies on how we are going to educate our children ... instead of focusing on stupid things like sonograms and voter ID?” according to the Star Telegram.
State governor Rick Perry gave the bill emergency status, allowing the Senate to fast-track the bill during its first 60 days of session. He praised the Senate’s action and awaits House approval on the bill.
“We know that when someone has all the information, the decision to choose life becomes clear,” he said, the Chronicle reports.
More about Texas senate, state house, republicancontrolled, Abortion measure, Sonogram
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