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Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Allows Texas Sonogram Law to Go Into Effect

January 10th, 2012

WASHINGTON – Today, a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals lifted the preliminary injunction on the Texas Sonogram Law on the grounds that the plaintiff did not have a likelihood of winning their argument. The Texas Sonogram Law, that was passed last year with the support of National Right to Life’s affiliate, Texas Right to Life, ensures that abortionists display an ultrasound image of the unborn child for the mother to view before an abortion decision. Abortionists are further required to allow mothers to hear the child’s heartbeat, and provide information about the development of the unborn baby.  

 “This breakthrough decision from the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recognizes, in the words of the Court, ‘the physicians obligations to display the sonogram images’ of the unborn child before an abortion,” said Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D., director of state legislation for National Right to Life. “In practice, an ultrasound law that does not require the ultrasound to be displayed can become almost meaningless because virtually every abortion facility will slip a waiver form into the stack of papers mothers are asked to sign.”

 In addition to Texas, both North Carolina and Oklahoma have also passed measures requiring an abortionist display an ultrasound image of the unborn child before an abortion. Both laws have been challenged.

 Writing the decision for the court, Chief Judge Edith Jones clearly laid out the responsibility of the abortion provider: “The woman seeking an abortion may elect not to receive these images, sounds, or explanations. This election does not obviate the physician’s obligations todisplay the sonogram images or make audible the heart auscultation; the woman may simply choose not to look or listen.

 Added Balch, “We commend the work of Texas Right to Life for their hard work in ensuring that the abortionist must display the ultrasound image of the unborn child for the mother. Today, their tireless efforts have paid off, and we are so pleased by this success.”

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