Judge Strikes Down Parts of Texas Sonogram Law

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A federal judge in Texas has ruled against a key provision of the state's new sonogram law.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks upheld the law's requirement that sonograms be performed before an abortion, but struck down the provision requiring doctors to describe the sonogram images to their patients.

Supporters of the law argue the provision ensures women fully understand what an abortion procedure entails. They said the law would lead to fewer abortions in Texas.

About 81,000 abortions are performed every year in the Lone Star State.

Opponents argue the measure dictates how a doctor must deal with their patient. They say that requiring doctors to describe a fetus' features would force them to say things against their will and would violate medical ethics.

Sparks wrote that forcing doctors to discuss the results with a patient who may not want to listen "compels physicians to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wish to listen."

The law -- one of dozens of anti-abortion measures that advanced through state capitals across the United States this year -- takes effect Thursday.

The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights had sued to block it. The group has already received notice that the state plans to appeal the ruling.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican who is running for president, was critical of Tuesday's ruling. Perry had made the law one of his top priorities for the 2011 legislative session.

"Every life lost to abortion is a tragedy, and today's ruling is a great disappointment to all Texans who stand in defense of life," Perry said in a statement.

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