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article imageOp-Ed: Sonogram Law is tip of iceberg for Texan women

By KJ Mullins     May 22, 2011 in World
A sonogram-before-abortion law passed in Texas this week is big news. What's not being talked about are the additional budget cuts to women's health in that state.
In Dallas, Texas the cost of a sonogram is over $300. That cost may put the choice of abortion out of reach for poorer women without medical insurance. Governor Rick Perry signed a bill requiring the medical test prior to abortions.
Perry passed the 'sonogram bill', reported Digital Journalist Renee Wilson on Thursday. The bill will require a woman to have a sonogram 24 hours prior to an abortion beginning in September. Victims of sex crimes who become pregnant do not have to undertake the sonograms according to the bill.
For the majority of women who will have to undergo a sonogram the method will be by vaginal probe. While the patient can opt out of hearing the heartbeat of the fetus their doctor will be required by law to give them a detailed description of the fetus. Doctors who refuse to do this face losing their license. Women who want an abortion have no choice on whether or not they hear the details.
Another amendment added to a Medicaid bill said that it hospitals and clinics that provide "abortion-related services" will face a freeze on public health care funding. $40 million from its biennium budget for an innovative program that provides contraception and health screenings to low-income women is slated to be cut.
The term is broad meaning that it can be used for clinics that give the morning-after pill to a rape victim or gives a sonogram to a woman who has an abortion.
The Bellingham Herald reports:
"The term 'abortion-related' is problematic," said Republican state Rep. John Zerwas, a physician who sponsored the overall bill. He said there is no definition of the term anywhere in state law, so it's open to broad interpretation.
Clinics like Planned Parenthood would not be affected since they do not receive federal funding. What is at stake are clinics and hospitals that are devoted to women. These funding freezes will affect all women using these clinics, including women who are in need of cancer screenings.
Texan women, a quarter of which are uninsured, are the victims. This bill goes beyond abortion. For the clinics that stand to lose funding health care costs will rise if the facilities can remain afloat. Each women's clinic that will close because of these measures mean more women who are without a place to go for birth control advice or information about female cancers.
Each time a law in enacted that takes away a medical treatment from a group, in this case women, a precedent is set that says this is okay. It allows the lawmakers to reduce treatments that aren't popular. What if the reductions were to children who are handicapped, people with AIDS or elderly patients with Alzheimer's Disease. It's a scary thought that needs to be questioned.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Sonogram, Abortion, Gov rick perry, Texas, Women's health
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