Dallas Attorney Part of the Team Trying To Get Courts to Toss Out State's New Sonogram Law

Categories: The Courts
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As we've noted before, the Texas Legislature special session this year was awfully concerned with abortion -- namely, making it as hard as possible for anyone to get one. Now, House Bill 15 is heading for Governor Rick Perry's desk, and the Center for Reproductive Rights is trying to stop one of the bill's most controversial features, the mandatory sonogram provision, which requires doctors to show women images of the fetus, describe those images in detail and offer to let them hear sounds of the heartbeat before the abortion can proceed. The CRR has already filed a class action lawsuit against the bill and launched a new website in protest, Trust Texas Women.

Today, the CRR asked U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks to keep the sonogram law from being enforced while the state considers its claims. In the text of their motion, the CRR argues that the Texas Women's Right to Know Act, which amends House Bill 15, "is far more extreme than, and qualitatively different from, any abortion counseling law enforced in this country."

Susan Hays is a Dallas-based attorney who's been working pro bono with the CRR on this case. She appeared at the hearing this morning on the group's behalf, along with Dicky Grigg, an Austin attorney who's also acting as local counsel, Bebe Anderson and Bonnie Scott Jones, both of the CRR, and Alex Lawrence, an attorney at Morrison & Forrester in New York City, who's also working pro bono. Judge Sparks, instead of immediately granting an injunction, decided to give both sides more time to gather evidence and present their arguments. The judge, Hays tells Unfair Park, "was what we call a 'hot bench.' He had a lot of questions about how the law is supposed to work, how doctors are supposed to know how what to do or not do. ... He seemed very uncomfortable with some aspects of the bill. Some of the questions he had about how it was going to work, I'm pretty sure he didn't get all the answers he wanted."

Hays calls the bill "part of an orchestrated campaign by the extreme right as part of their obsession with women's reproductive capacities." But she says it also has implications for the doctors who perform abortions as well.

"What's disturbing about this bill to the health-care community is this forced lecture and forced speech that a doctor has to give his patient," she says. "It's forcing doctors to choose between violating medical ethics and a threat of prosecution."

The CRR was just granted a similar injunction in a case in Kansas, where it filed a motion to block the implementation of new licensing regulations for abortion providers. The new laws were issued to abortion providers on June 17 and were supposed to go into effect July 1.

They would have required every abortion provider in the state (all three of them) to comply with "extensive physical plant requirements" that the CRR worried would lead to them being shut down for code violations. The requirements included "procedure rooms that are at least 150 square feet, 50 square feet of storage space for janitor's supplies per procedure room, and designated dressing rooms for staff."

Kind of hard to build with two weeks notice, no?

The plaintiffs in the Texas case will have 15 days to submit a brief about specific legal issues they object to within the law, and the defendants will have 15 days to respond. Hays says she expects a ruling from Sparks in August at the earliest. She hopes Sparks will provide a permanent injunction against the bill, which is otherwise stated to take effect September 1.

"This bill is requiring women to jump through hoops and listen to lectures because of somebody else's hang-ups about sex," Hays says. "And that is not the role of the state under the constitution."Doc 30 Order
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Allison Williams
Allison Williams

Women in 20 years if we sit by and do nothing we won't be allowed to abort, birth control will not exist, and any pregnancy out of wedlock will end in adoption. History repeats. Abortions have been legalized for thousands of years in every culture. Adoption has been a rare occasion throughout history until the past hundred year which resulted in government policies that allowed infants to be kidnapped from the womb mainly because abortion and birth control were limited services given only to married women. Why do men need to control the sexuality of women? Do they realize this is not the 1950s, that we are more educated than we were then. That women helped black men to be treated equally because when we rally as a whole they can't shut us up. We have states that are making miscarriages illegal, why to punish women, and some are making it illegal to force women to buy medication at a thousand times the cost. We need reform in men, we need to be seen as educated and capable of making informed decisions for ourselves.

Rooster
Rooster

I just don't get it.

Our schools are shit.  Our roads are falling apart.

...and THIS is what the clowns in Austin have been working on?

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

I don't understand how the State can afford to pay for sonograms but not for my weed so I can cope with the State passing such idiotic laws.

dallasmay
dallasmay

Abortion is a tough issue to be sure. But this law is really extreme. Forcing people to have a medical procedure is wrong. No one should be able to touch another persons body without their permission. Even, and especially, a doctor. All medical procedures have risks, even sonograms. 

If this is allowed to pass, what's next? Should we, by law, force people to accept chemotherapy regardless of how harsh the treatment or of the stage of their cancer? Should we force people to donate blood? This is really ugly and poorly thought out.

Anonymous
Anonymous

The point about the safety of sonograms is worth mentioning. People these days love sonograms because they think it's cute to look at their baby in the womb, and as far as they are concerned, the more the better. It ignores the fact that most complication-free pregnancies don't really ever have a medical justification for the sonogram. It's something that helps the doctor, and it can be done by a sonogram tech so it takes less of the doctor's time, and insurance companies pay for it. But that doesn't make it a medically necessary procedure that the state is now forcing on certain of its population.

Joanne
Joanne

When I first met Susan Hayes, 6yrs ago, I was immediately impressed by her how intelligent she was. 

pbluett
pbluett

This law is horrendous and scary.  It WILL lead to persecution of women in need and  qualified medical providers.  Mandated performance of medically unnecessary sonographic procedures will lead to other unsavory medical mandates (because there will be a legislative template). I am frankly surprised that conservatives are supporting this kind of  intrusive expansion of govt. power. As an independent observer of the GHW Bush and Perry administration, I am now convinced that these are no more than immature sick-o  frat boys who want to "play" (or control) doctors.  The obsession with ladies private parts (Bush-MQSA-Mammography with its myriad meaningless regulations and Perry cervix cancer innoculation mandate as well as the "right to life" sonogram intervention) strike me as forms of perversion. As for Mr. Pak152, just because someone has a child does not make them an ideal mother(recent evidence being the alleged very late term abortion of Ms. Casey Anthony's offspring).  Go take your abortion stats and stuff "em until you analyse the stats for kids abused or tossed away because of moms who feel compelled to have one.  Also, you might want to get the historical perspective on the "at home kit" or "back alley" abortion methods of several decades ago which killed or maimed countless women of childbearing age.

pak152
pak152

so it is okay to put horrendous images on cigarette packs, but we can't show pregnant women what they are destroying?.

Merritt Martin
Merritt Martin

Sorry, pak153, but I gotta call that one a stretch. After all, one doesn't make a quick trip down to the corner store to grab an abortion for $10 (or less with Camel cash!). One also doesn't put in hours and hours of soul-searching deliberation on whether or not they're ready to support a pack of cigarettes, nor does one need anti-abortion chewing gum after they realize their "social" aborting has progressed to two abortions a day.

pak152
pak152

well merritt considering there have been over 53 million abortions since Roe v Wade came into being and many of them  are done as part of birth control one would have to question how much thought went into it before they were done. if there is so much soul searching how many adoptions have resulted from counseling performed by Planned Parenthood?

" In 2007, Planned Parenthood clinics performed over 300,000 abortion procedures, compared to 4,910 referrals to adoption agencies"  or 1 adoption for every 61 abortionshttp://www.ncfpc.org/stories/0...

"While abortions are on the rise at Planned Parenthood, adoption referrals declined to just 2,405 — a 51 percent drop since 2007. Planned Parenthood now does 134 abortions for every adoption referral it makes."http://www.lifenews.com/2010/0...

one would then assume that PP is really pushing abortions rather than helping the women to make an informed decision

Allison Williams
Allison Williams

Most women that I know that have had both said the abortion was way less painful than the years lost and the lost of motherhood via adoption which aborts the mother. I noticed you said jack about having women and men parent their children but focused on adoption. Why adoption, social workers, lawyers, judges, doctors, and ceo are making billions of dollars on child trafficking and you want more children to be traded? How many adoptive parents decide before the adoption is final that they don't want the baby or child because it's not what "they envisioned"!

If you are so against abortion do yourself a favor and don't have one. I am prolife when it comes to my body (unless I need an abortion) but I am pro-choice for everybody else. What you do in private is your business and nobody elses. If you open your mouth and spread it around it comes back to you. Karma gets everybody.

Oh and you can not assume that PP pushes abortion rather than helping women make an informed decision because you left out the most important option: Raising your child. So if I become pregnant I have only two options I'll try to remember abortion or adoption are my only to options according to your post.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Jiffy Lube pushes replacement air filters but it's still my choice whether I have it done.

John_McKee
John_McKee

Being pregnant and giving birth is not a pleasant experience, for 9 months your social activities are severly curtailed, you don't feel good, there are all sorts of potential medical complications, some fatal and then you suffer some of the worst pain in your life pushing the baby out which brain chemistry causes you to form an instant emotional bond with that you are unwilling or unable to care for.

People shouldn't be shamed into having to suffer that, if they choose to that is their choice but frankly I think coercing women to go through that has a lot to do with punishing women for having sex.

Coleman
Coleman

can you imagine how high food and gas prices would be if those 53 million fetuses developed mouths to feed and asses to drive around? come on, man.

Keith
Keith

I'm also betting that the term "abortion procedures" applies to pre counseling, prepping for surgery and any follow up to pad those stats.

Keith
Keith

So the population of the USA was 211 million in 1973, and by 2010 it was around 311 million, so for every 2 additional people added to the population over one was also aborted?  Gotta say I'm not buying that 53 million figure especially since I can't find it on anything but pro life websites.  So that throws most of the other figures in doubt, but, if I buy your other Planned Parenthood stats, maybe that's just due to the fact that PP isn't trying to change the minds of adults who have made a personal decision.  You know the kind of respect we all seek and deserve.

Merritt Martin
Merritt Martin

Yikes. I was simply addressing that smoking cigarettes/cigarette packaging is not on the same level (or anywhere near) receiving an abortion/pre-abortion sonogram, but...I can see now I took the bait.

Since 1973, the population according to the 2010 US Census has grown by 96,836,750. Based on that, logically, we could assume that the numbers of homeless/foster/adoptable children, welfare recipients, prisoners, violent crimes/sexual assaults, standard cost of living, people with allergies, bedbug infestations, chewing gum Trident produces and yes, abortions provided to American women have also increased.

In regard to the adoption referrals, however, most referrals come from a doctor when they are requested, when a patient has an illness/condition that requires a specialist or when they are unable to provide care for the problem. I, for one, have never in my life sought treatment from a doctor only to be referred to a facility that would essentially force me to willfully prolong/complicate my condition.

Aside from that, consider how adoption referrals are even quantified. My understanding would be through patients who actually follow through and go to the adoption agency after being given the information. That's a big variable there.

Interesting side note to that referral variable theory: I actually know someone who, due to a lack of insurance or regular physician, went to Planned Parenthood for a consultation when she became pregnant. She wanted to look at her options. They provided her with a great deal of information and education on all the options, from prevention/family planning to adoption to termination to the garden "what to expect"-variety material for moms-to-be. All of it. Even stuff for the dad. Planned Parenthood also referred her to an adoption agency, should she opt to go that route. She didn't. She had the baby. Call me crazy, but I'm guessing that referral didn't count toward the LifeNews/STOPP statistic sheet.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

And you have adopted how many ?

Don't want an abortion Don't have one.

Rain39
Rain39

Good for Them!  I fully support this.

Affluent women will not have any problem getting birth control and an abortion either with the early abortion pill or the surgical methods as provided by law.  Poorer women will have more of a struggle because the costs will be up with fewer providers and the lege's promotion of the need for a sonogram if already pregnant.  We women must all be too ignorant to know exactly what we are doing to need a sonogram.  My guess it is the opposite as usual with men ignorant of or hostile to women's issues and loving to legislate other people's morality.  

Joey G. Dauben
Joey G. Dauben

Hey, Susan Hays isn't just any Dallas attorney. She also happens to be the former chairwoman for the Dallas County Democratic Party.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong on this, but I think that affiliation should be very well known. She's not just some run-of-the-mill lawyer picked to fight this. She's a partisan esquire ;)

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Indeed -- her stint as head of the Dallas County Democratic Party is mentioned in several of the stories linked to in the piece above. Though, indeed, perhaps we should have been more explicit.

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