The House State Affairs Committee voted 9-3 to send Rep. Sid Miller's proposal to the House floor. The Stephenville Republican's bill would allow the woman seeking an abortion to avert her eyes, while still hearing a fetal heartbeat, if present, and the doctor's explanation of the sonogram image.
Doctors can perform abortions without sonograms in medical emergencies, which are narrowly defined as causing bodily harm, according to Miller's bill. The legislation provides no exception for women pregnant from rape, incest or whose fetus has irreversibly abnormalities - a provision the Senate included in its language.
•Ensuring that the printed material includes a list of abortion alternative providers who provide services such as: free sonograms, adoption, or services that assist women through pregnancy, childbirth, and the child’s dependency.
•Establishing reporting requirements for abortions that are performed to save the life of the mother, in which case consent is not obtained.
•Requiring the revocation of a physician’s license if he or she engages in unprofessional conduct by violating this law.
•Changing the Woman's Right to Know law by requiring that a mother must have a face-to-face conversation with a physician, not a physician’s agent, twenty-four hours before the abortion procedure can take place. We believe that this standard of care allows mothers to be more informed about the risks and complications associated with abortion. We think such consultations will save lives. We know from our abortion alternatives programs that when mothers are fully informed about their pregnancies, they are more likely to choose life.
Both the woman and the doctor must also sign an affidavit which states that the doctor personally gave the woman all the information required by law about alternatives to abortion, including family care options and adoption.
Pro-life advocates have accused abortion providers of only telling women about the services available, though not physically giving the women the pamphlet with other options that state lawmakers approved in 2003 with the Women's Right to Know Act.
Defending his bill before the committee, Miller removed some of the strict legal penalties doctors could face if they violate the law, including a $10,000 fine and lawsuits from the woman, her family or a district attorney. Instead, the committee approved a provision that would allow the Texas Medical Board to revoke abortion providers' medical licenses if the doctor does not adhere to the law.
Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine, said Miller's bill would harm patients in rural communities that only have only a few doctors or those who must travel long distances for medical care.
Democrats on the committee pressed pro-life witnesses not to dismiss the plight of pregnant low-income minority women who may lose their pre-natal and child care as lawmakers address the $27 billion budget deficit.
"These are mothers who want to birth their kids, and they are losing their children in high numbers," said Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston. "The support they are seeking is being stripped away this session."
Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, also proposed a sonogram bill but asked the committee to table her version since a Senate version, passed last week, is on its way to the House.
The measure is likely to pass with the overwhelming support of conservative House Republicans, whose numbers swelled in the lower chamber after the 2010 elections.
Gov. Rick Perry, who said he will sign the bill if it comes to his desk, made the sonogram bill an emergency item last month, allowing lawmakers to take up the bill immediately.
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- A state House committee approved an anti-abortion measure to prohibit abortions on fetuses older than 20 weeks that can feel pain.
The measure was approved Tuesday by the House Public Health Committee and now goes to the full House for action.
Its author, Rep. Pam Peterson of Tulsa, said research indicates pain receptors are present in the body of fetuses when they are 16 weeks old and that nerves linking them to the brain are present by 20 weeks.
The bill, similar to one in Nebraska, exempts women whose life or health is threatened.
But Rep. Doug Cox of Grove, one of two physicians in the Legislature, said the measure forces a woman to continue carrying a fetus with a lethal defect that will die shortly after birth.