Whole Woman’s Health: Impacts of the Sonogram Bill

Tomorrow marks the first day that abortion providers and patients are required to abide by (what’s left of) Rick Perry & Dan Patrick’s “emergency status” sonogram bill. We’ve spent countless hours since this bill was passed trying to determine what this means for our patients, and during that time there have been quite a few changes to it, thanks to our friends at the Center for Reproductive Rights and others who took on the case.

Because of them and a few upstanding Texas judges, yes, there was an injunction placed on a lot of atrocious things within the bill.

And yes, the TX Supreme Court upheld that injunction on those things, due to them being blatantly unconstitutional. And tomorrow would have been a lot worse for us, our Doctors and our patients, had these things not been placed under injunction…

…But that doesn’t mean that women and families aren’t still being majorly impacted by this bill. Perhaps the biggest obstacle within the bill is now the only one standing: the new 24 hour waiting period. While legally requiring a woman to view her ultrasound and listen to the description is pretty monstrous and blatantly unconstitutional, at the very least, it didn’t impact her ability to have a procedure.

So now, what are we left with? We’re left with a new 24 hour waiting period that is much more cumbersome than the last. This “sonogram bill” now requires women to make 2 trips to the clinic to receive her ultrasound 24 hours in advance of her procedure. So essentially, for our patients, the only thing that this bill has managed to change is the number of days they have to take off of work (and arrange child care, use sick/vacation days, find gas money, find a ride, or simply 2 days of crossing her fingers that she doesn’t get fired for a spontaneous 2-day leave. This goes for any friends/family that would like to be with her during the procedure, too.) The sono bill, as it stands, doesn’t satisfy the initially proposed, overarching goal of “educating women.” What it’s all boiled down to is just another obstacle for women and families, with absolutely no rhyme or reason behind it.

The sonogram bill really only made sense (to anti-choicers, at least) as a whole package. We already performed ultrasounds. Now we just have to perform them 24 hours in advance. And for what? We’re very happy that this package has been trimmed down, but we’d really just like to return the whole thing.

Perhaps the only clause that makes it better states that if a woman says that she lives outside of a 100-mile radius from the clinic, the 24 hour law no longer applies to her. Unfortunately, for those women who happen to live down the street and need an abortion, they’ll still be facing the 24 hour waiting period and all of the new obstacles that come with it, so says the state of Texas.

As illogical and useless as this new law is (to both sides of the argument now), we’re here for the women and families who need our support and assistance in navigating the new 2-day appointments, whether it’s with helping you locate a local childcare facility or providing you with a Doctor’s note. And we promise, you are not alone in your frustration with this situation. Trust us.