A federal judge on Tuesday blocked provisions of a Texas law that required doctors to describe sonogram images to patients before performing abortions, ruling that it violates the doctors' free speech.
The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights had sued to block the law, arguing that it disregarded the wishes of women seeking abortions by actively trying to dissuade them. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks wrote that forcing patients to hear descriptions of the fetus overrides medical ethics in the name of politics.
The requirement 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, Sparks wrote.
Sparks also denounced an aspect of the bill that exempted victims of incest of rape only if they signed a statement confirming the fact.
[It] is difficult to avoid the troubling conclusion the Texas Legislature either wants to permanently brand women who choose to get abortions, or views these certifications as potential evidence to be used against physicians and women, Sparks wrote.
The ruling is a huge victory for women in Texas and a clear signal to the state Legislature that it went too far when it passed this law, said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.