Texas to Appeal Temporary Injunction of Sonogram Law

By Dave Andrusko

Federal Judge Sam Sparks

The Texas Attorney General will appeal Tuesday’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks that placed a preliminary injunction on most key provision of the state’s new sonogram law. Challenged by the New York-Based Center for Reproductive Rights, which brought a class-action lawsuit on behalf of “Texas Medical Providers Performing Abortion Services,” the law had been scheduled to go into effect Thursday. 

“Every life lost to abortion is a tragedy and today’s ruling is a great disappointment to all Texans who stand in defense of life,” pro-life Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement. “This important sonogram legislation ensures that every Texas woman seeking an abortion has all the facts about the life she is carrying, and understands the devastating impact of such a life-changing decision.”

While Judge Sparks upheld the requirement that the sonograms be performed, he invalidate major portions of the law which required abortionists to describe the images of the babies to women and, if audible, make available an auto of the unborn child’s heartbeat.

“The act [HB 15] 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 wish to listen,” Judge Sparks said in his 55-page ruling. The state also cannot impose penalties against abortionists who don’t fulfill its requirements, Sparks ruled.

“Texas is blessed with an unapologetically Pro-Life Attorney General, Greg Abbott,” said Elizabeth Graham of Texas Right to Life. “Texas Right to Life has been working closely with Attorney General Abbott and his staff, who have skillfully and tirelessly been defending the Sonogram Bill since June.  Texas Right to Life and these Pro-Life officials intend to continue fighting for the full enactment and enforcement of HB 15.  In fact, Attorney General Abbott has already filed an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court, requesting that the Sonogram Law will go into effect and be enforced even while the lower court is still processing a final decision on the law.”

Graham pointed out the irony that “In his ruling, Judge Sparks accuses both the plaintiffs and defendants of waging an ideological war in his court room, yet he had done exactly that by enjoining the main points of the sonogram law.” The sonogram law, passed in May, “is a common sense piece of legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick and Representative Sid Miller to ensure that women receive all the medical facts prior to making a life-changing decision to abort an unborn child.’

To delay this law taking effect, Graham said, ‘is to further jeopardize the health of women entering abortion clinics.”

Patrick (R-Houston) told the Houston Chronicle that he wasn’t surprised by the decision. “It is clear to me, from the inflammatory language in the order, that Judge Sparks was predisposed to this decision,” said Patrick. “It is disappointing that a group from out-of-state that does not value life can successfully interfere with Texas’ public policy.”  Patrick expressed confidence the law’s constitutionality ultimately will be upheld, according to the Chronicle.

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