Texas sonogram bill fast tracked for legislative action...
Found at www.chron.com, I'd heard about this today at the Roe v. Wade Memorial March.
AUSTIN — Legislation requiring women seeking an abortion to first have a sonogram is an emergency that merits expedited consideration by the Legislature, Gov. Rick Perry told anti-abortion activists on Saturday.
A bill backed by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Houston state Sen. Dan Patrick will be granted emergency status, Perry told more than a thousand anti-abortion protesters at a Saturday rally. They had gathered at the Capitol on the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
"It's pretty hard to imagine people of good conscience sitting idly by through this, and in Texas we haven't," the governor said, calling the court's decision a "tragedy."
Although a similar bill died in the House in 2009, the measure faces better prospects this session with a two-thirds Republican majority in the lower chamber and close to that in the Senate.
Planned Parenthood, a provider of family planning services and abortions nationally, sharply criticized the timing of the proposal.
"It's pretty unbelievable, given the state of the state," said Rochelle Tafolla, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood in Houston. "We're facing an unprecedented budget crisis and this bill is completely unnecessary."
Granting the bill emergency status allows the Legislature to take up the matter before the 60th day of the session, in effect putting it on the fast track.
Patrick's bill this session goes further than in 2009. Beyond requiring women who seek an abortion to receive a sonogram, a procedure that provides an image of the fetus, the bill would require women to listen to a doctor's explanation of the physical characteristics of the fetus and to hear audio of the heartbeat. It would also require women to be informed about alternatives to abortion at least 24 hours before the procedure.
Two votes short in Senate
The 2009 bill passed in the Senate but died in the House. It was supported by three Democrats in the Senate, allowing it to pass with the required two-thirds vote.
Currently, Republicans are two votes short of a two-thirds majority in the Senate.
"This is the same bill I passed in '07, this is the same bill that I introduced in '09," said Patrick. "We needed to tweak it a bit (in 2009) in order to pass it."
Two of the Democratic senators who supported the bill in 2009 said they would be inclined to support legislation that was similar to last session's sonogram bill, but wouldn't commit to Patrick's bill as currently written.
"If it's the same bill as last year, I'm very supportive and I'll probably end up coauthoring the bill," said Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville. "I very much support making sure that those who are unborn have the protections they need."
But Lucio said he would have to carefully look at the mandates in the new bill.
Sen. Carlos Uresti said he couldn't say whether he supports the bill until he has read it. He voiced concern about some of the new provisions.
Lucio and Uresti said they were puzzled as to why this bill was declared an emergency.
"It's analogous to calling 911 and saying, 'We have an emergency and it's the sonogram bill,' " Uresti said. "As far as I'm concerned I would think that our budget, the fact we're in the hole $27 billion, is the emergency."
Dems slam Perry's picks
Democratic leaders have expressed outrage over the issues Perry chose as emergency items, complaining that the Legislature should be working to close the budget shortfall, which has been estimated at between $15 billion and $27 billion.
"Once again, Rick Perry is trying to distract from the real emergency - our state's massive budget shortfall - with divisive partisan issues," said Kristen Gray, a spokeswoman for the Texas Democratic Party. "He is more concerned with trying to be a GOP celebrity than looking out for everyday Texans."
Patrick rejected the criticism that the bill was being fast-tracked to score political points for Republicans before tackling the budget crisis.
"The people who would say that apparently put money before life," Patrick said. "I refuse to allow myself to be offended by comments like that."
The governor has previously announced four other emergency items for legislators to consider: eminent domain reform, ending "sanctuary city" policies that don't require police to check the immigration status of people they stop or arrest, a voter identification bill, and calling for an amendment to the US Constitution that would mandate a balanced federal budget.
The issues that Perry has given emergency status are important to his base of conservative activists and to the tea party movement.
Great post subvet! Hope it passes fast! Sorry so short. 1 hand 1 finger typing due to surgery
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