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Monday, October 2, 2023


Texas sonogram bill contradicts party ideals

House Bill 15, effective Sept. 1 of this year, features a host of requirements for women considering having an abortion.

The bill requires doctors to disclose the risks associated with both having an abortion and carrying the child to term, legal rights regarding paternal support, abortion alternatives, where to find more information and other necessary, helpful information.

Women must sign a document certifying her knowledge of the risks and options involved, just as patients receiving anesthesia are informed of risks associated with the drugs — it’s standard protocol.

The recently added sonogram requirement, however, contradicts traditional Republican viewpoints. HB 15 specifies what a doctor must do and say during the sonogram procedure, as well as when and how he must perform it. The Texas Medical Association has voiced concerns over the legislature’s mandate; the bill includes disciplinary action by a board of directors, and it takes away their discretion as well.

The modified bill that Gov. Rick Perry signed into law changed the requirement of discipline from “may” to “shall.” This makes discipline, regardless of the circumstances, mandatory.

Physicians that fail to perform sonograms exactly in the stipulated manner face license revocation and shall not have their license renewed. So, doctors are punished for making medical decisions — apparently the Texas legislature must know better.

Perry has a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas A&M, and most members of the legislature are businessmen, politicians and lawyers. How is this group qualified to make this decision?

The party cherishes the sacred doctor/patient relationship and patients’ rights of choice. They used that argument to oppose Obama’s health care legislation. In this case, however, these rules do not apply. According to Republicans, health care regulations are evil when trying to reducing inequality, but fine when pushing Christian moral agendas.

Economic consequences reveal the same hypocrisy. Republicans are enamored with privatization and are convinced that efficiency and doing more with less are vital to a thriving economy. So why force something that may or may not be necessary based on an individual’s health? If a licensed physician does not deem a service necessary, performing the service is nothing but a waste of the physician’s time and the patient’s money. Is this the efficiency that Republicans champion?

The cost of a sonogram can discourage poorer patients from having an abortion. And insurance plans often refuse to pay for services that are not medically necessary, so even patients lucky enough to have insurance could have to pay for an extra, unnecessary service.

What about patients without insurance? The Texas legislature is in the process of cutting medical care for the poor and has already cut much funding from Planned Parenthood and other institutions that provide free reproductive services, such as sonograms, to women. Is this not economic discrimination?

If the Texas legislature forces people to make certain choices regardless of economic realities, it should step up and foot the bill. And, the next time Republicans gloat about protecting individual rights and economic efficiency, consider how their actions fail to conform to their rhetoric.

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