Sonogram image of a fetus
A new Texas law mandates that patients requesting an abortion be shown a sonogram of the fetus before the procedure takes place. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

A bill regulating abortion procedures in Texas was recently signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry. The new law requires that physicians show patients requesting an abortion a sonogram of the fetus and waiting 24 hours before undergoing the procedure. Abortion continues to be one of the most often and hotly contested issues in the nation.

Governor fast tracks Texas abortion bill

Gov. Rick Perry of Texas recently fast-tracked and signed a bill that changes the procedure a patient must go through to receive an abortion, according to Reuters. The new law mandates any woman who requests an abortion has to wait at least 24 hours before undergoing the procedure and has to have a sonogram performed by the attending physician. The doctor has to describe the fetus, including size and features, though patients can decline to see the fetus or listen to its heartbeat. The “cooling off period” is reduced from 24 to two hours for women who live more than 100 miles away from an abortion provider, and listening to a description of the sonogram can be waived in case of rape, incest or fetal abnormalities.

Abortion bills in numerous states

There have been abortion-related bills in several legislatures in recent months. Nebraska recently passed two abortion bills, according to the Omaha World Herald. One requires minors to have the consent of a parent or guardian in order to undergo an abortion and the other mandates that patients who take abortion pills must have face-to-face checkups with doctors and not over the phone. Doctors were previously able to talk to patients via telephone when the pills are administered or taken by the patients at home. The Minnesota legislature, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune, is currently trying to resolve bills that would prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of gestation and bar any state funding of abortions for women. Indiana governor Mitch Daniels signed a bill cutting off all Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood locations on May 10, according to USA Today. The bill also mandates physicians tell patients that life begins at fertilization.

A complex issue

Contraception, abortion and even infanticide have been practiced by numerous cultures for thousands of years as ways of dealing with unplanned pregnancies, especially among the poor. A recent article in the Journal of Archaeological Science, according to MSNBC, uncovered evidence that unplanned babies in the Roman Empire were sometimes dealt with by smothering them, especially among disadvantaged women such as prostitutes. A study by the Brookings Institute, according to the Wall Street Journal, estimated that unplanned pregnancies cost the federal government anywhere from $9 billion to more than $12 billion a year, including subsidizing hospital births, neonatal care and health care for poor mothers. Less than a quarter of expenditures were on abortions. Planned Parenthood heralded the findings as proof that more resources should be allocated for preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Sources

Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/20/us-abortion-texas-idUSTRE74J0F420110520

Omaha World Herald: http://www.omaha.com/article/20110519/NEWS01/705199851/1034

Minnesota Star Tribune: http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/122270628.html

USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-05-12-indiana-planned-parenthood_n.htm

Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704904604576333812220890544.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42919668/ns/technology_and_science-science/


 

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