Mandatory Sonogram Law Now in Effect at Texas Abortion Facilities

The Department of State Health Services says it's now ready to start enforcing the sonogram law for abortion providers.

Last year, the Texas legislature passed a law requiring women seeking to end a pregnancy to undergo a sonogram, and then wait an additional 24 hours to have the abortion.

Since then, the law has undergone legal challenges.

But the Department of State Health Services has now indicated it’s going to enforce the law, and it’s released guidelines for abortion providers and their patients.

Carrie Williams is with the department.

“The physician who is performing the abortion is required to show the sonogram images to the woman, and make the heartbeat audible and provide a verbal explanation of the sonogram results to the pregnant woman.”

But there’s a small twist.

Although the doctor must perform all of these actions, the law doesn’t mean the woman has to look or listen:

“Now the woman can choose not to view the printed materials after she’s been provided them. and she may choose not to view the sonogram images, and she may choose not to hear the heartbeat.”

Rochelle Tafolla of the Gulf Coast chapter of Planned Parenthood. She says that her providers have been following the law since an injunction was lifted last month.

Still, Tafolla says the law is a government intrusion on a private medical decision.

Texas has about 40 abortion facilities, Williams says inspectors visit them about once a year.

During those visits, regulators will now ask for documentation to show that providers are following the sonogram procedures, but they will not do any additional inspections just for the new law.

From the KUHF Health and Science Desk, I’m Carrie Feibel.

Bio photo of Carrie Feibel

Carrie Feibel

Health & Science Reporter

Carrie Feibel is KUHF's health and science reporter. She comes to Houston Public Radio after ten years as a print reporter...