A bill requiring women seeking abortions to view a fetal sonogram 24 hours before the procedure easily cleared a key House committee vote Wednesday, paving the way for the full House to consider the bill.
The Texas House State Affairs Committee held a hearing at the Capitol to hear public testimony about the sonogram bill filed by Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville. About 20 people gave testimony at the hearing.
The bill would require doctors to conduct a sonogram, give a description of the fetus and play audio of the fetal heartbeat 24 hours before the procedure. It would also require them to give patients a full list of risks and alternatives.
The committee voted 9-3 to send the bill to the House floor. The State Senate passed a similar bill last week that provides exceptions for rape and incest victims or for women whose fetuses have abnormalities. Miller’s bill does not include these exceptions.
Under Miller’s bill, doctors can lose their licenses if they fail to adhere to the procedure. Because the committee passed it, the House will now vote on it. The Senate version of the bill will also come before the House for a vote in the coming weeks.
Becky Turner, a Texas citizen who had an abortion performed 25 years ago, took a can of tuna with her when she testified before the committee. Just as people have the information about different types of tuna packing methods, they should have the information necessary to make educated decisions when they get pregnant, Turner said.
“If I had been given that information, I probably would have made the same decision,” she said. “But I would hope that the value of that child would’ve held as much value as a dead fish in a can.”
However, the bill uses this information to present to the public the idea that what is in the womb is a baby, said Russell Crawford, author of “The Living Book on Abortion,” a pro-choice book.
“What you’re doing is proving to a woman that what she has in her womb is a baby,” he said. “What I’ve noticed is that a zygote can be frozen and live. A baby cannot be frozen and live. There is a difference between what is in the womb and a human baby.”
Birth rates between 1959 and 1973, before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in 1973, tended to be lower than they are today,
indicating that birth rates are actually higher when abortion is an option, Crawford said.
In 2010, University Health Services administered 618 pregnancy tests, 38 of which were positive. UHS does not offer abortions, so there is no way to tell how many students received abortions in 2010, said UHS senior program coordinator Sherry Bell.
The option to view a sonogram and to hear a description of a fetus and its heartbeat should be available to all women, including victims of rape or incest or women whose babies have physical deformities, said Kerry Holland in her testimony at the hearing. Holland’s mother attempted to abort her while she was in the womb, and Holland survived the abortion.
“I believe that had they shown her an ultrasound, my mother would not have attempted the abortion,” she said. “I believe that if she was here today, that she would testify to you how much she regrets that decision and that she would never do it again.”