Texas Sonogram Law Found to Violate First Amendment
A federal judge today found that the Texas "sonogram law" violates the First Amendment and blocked enforcement of important provisions of the statute. This law would have forced women seeking to terminate a pregnancy to undergo a medically unnecessary and intrusive transvaginal sonogram. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), which brought the case, the was certified against the law as a class action, and a preliminary injunction was granted until those areas of the case can be resolved. The Center filed a class action lawsuit against the new ultrasound requirements on June 13 on behalf of Texas medical providers performing abortions and their patients.
Judge Sam Sparks ruled that doctors cannot be penalized if they do not show a woman seeking an abortion the sonogram images, describe those images to her or play the sound of the fetal heart, if the woman declines this information.
In the opinion, according to CRR, he held that “the Act 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.”
"Today’s ruling is a huge victory for women in Texas and a clear signal to the state legislature that it went too far when it passed this law," said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. "Politicians have no business telling doctors how to practice medicine or meddling in women’s private medical decisions.”
In requesting the preliminary injunction, the Center argued that the ultrasound requirements violate the First Amendment rights of both the doctor and the patient by forcing physicians to deliver politically-motivated communications to a women seeking termination of pregnancy, even if she declines. The Center also argued that the law discriminates against women by subjecting them to paternalistic “protections” not imposed on men.