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Texas law requires doctors to perform an ultrasound on a woman before a pregnancy is terminated. But just because it is required doesn’t mean doctors are happy about it—particularly one doctor who took a stand in the form of an impassioned ultrasound consent form which she distributed to her patients.
A Redditor shared a post last week called “I terminated a pregnancy for medical reasons last week. This was one of the consent forms I had to sign.” It included a link to a now-deleted photo, which showed the text of the form from one Texas doctor’s office.
By contrast, here is the consent form from another women’s health center.
The ultrasound law, enacted in October 2011, requires a woman to have the ultrasound 24 hours before her abortion. This requires her to make two separate trips, which can cause difficulties for women who live in rural areas. Planned Parenthood posted a statement on their website in the aftermath. They wrote:
Planned Parenthood always puts women’s health first and we fought against this law because there is no medical reason for requiring women to come 24 hours in advance. Ultrasounds have been a standard part of abortion services and are always performed on every patient before any type of procedure is done.
Beginning October 1, 2011 women have to make at least 2 trips for an abortion – the first being for an ultrasound. This is required for the abortion pill and for in-clinic abortions. We understand that requiring multiple visits makes things more inconvenient for women during a stressful time in their lives. We are trying our very best to work with women to help them through these changes.
The psychology behind this seems to be that if a woman hears a fetal heartbeat, sees its little amorphous body and has 24 hours to mull it over, she may reconsider her decision.
When the law was being debated in the Texas Senate, Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) asked Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), one of the champions of the bill, if the sonogram was really “of medical interest?”
“It’s of medical interest,” Patrick replied, “so a woman has all the information she needs to make the decision.”
Abortion clinics are hard to come by in Texas: At one point there were 41, and there are only 18 in the entire state (the second most populous in the nation) Existing clinics are asking the Supreme Court to take up a case for their rights, in fear that even more of them will be forced to close.
The Dallas Morning News explained “The clinics said they filed an appeal Wednesday aimed at permanently blocking parts of a state law that already have forced nearly two dozen clinics to close and would leave the second-most populous state with 10 abortion providers. If the law passed in 2013 takes full effect, there would be no clinic west of San Antonio and only one would operate on a limited basis in the Rio Grande Valley.”
It may be a dark time for women’s health in the Lone Star State, but at least one doctor is making sure her patients know that the government is negatively interfering.
Marisa Kabas is a lifestyle reporter and activist. Her work has been published by Fusion, Fast Company, and Today. She’s also served as an editorial campaigns director for Purpose PBC, a social movement incubator.