Texas’s new law that would require a mandatory ultrasound and a recitation of risk factors and other “facts” prior to receiving an abortion is being heard in a district court today.
Via the Houston Chronicle:
S. District Judge Sam Sparks, however, indicated some discomfort with portions of the bill that critics consider vague, particularly as physicians could go to jail or lose their medical licenses if they run afoul of the law. Sparks said he would rule before compliance of the new law kicks in Sept. 1.
The law is more extreme than any in the country because it requires doctors to engage in speech far beyond typical “informed consent” topics such as risks, benefits and alternatives for abortions, argued Bebe Anderson, a lawyer for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights. The U.S. Supreme Court in the “Planned Parenthood v. Casey” case, she said, did not force physicians to provide women with unwanted images, verbal descriptions or auditory sounds of the fetus.
The bill is too vague, she argued: “Because of the risk of severe penalties, it’s vital that there be clarity.”
Texas isn’t the only state to have problems with “informed consent” rules that were too vague. Nebraska lost its own restriction lawsuit last year after putting in a list of “risks associated with abortions” that required doctors to cite nearly every abortion study ever done, regardless of the validity of the study, making the requirement so cumbersome no practitioner could ever be certain he or she completed it properly.