Lawmaker Seeks Repeal of Waiting Period
There is a push in Austin to roll back some of the abortion restrictions passed by the 2011 Legislature. State Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) has proposed a bill that would repeal the 24-hour mandatory waiting period for an abortion that was part of the "sonogram law." Farrar cites a recent study by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project that revealed the waiting period had a negative emotional and financial impact on many women. Farrar argues that the bill will actually add to medical costs at a time when the state is trying to reduce healthcare costs. She also claims it's an undue attempt to "manipulate women's minds" about a decision they've already made.
Supporters of the sonogram law say it has proven positive and effective. "When women walk away from clinics and reflect on the information and are given information about what's happening in their womb, they will in fact continue their pregnancy," says Elizabeth Graham, Director of Texas Right to Life. She argues that the worst thing for a pregnant woman is to be rushed into an abortion clinic before she realizes what she's doing. "If anything, she should receive extra time, extra counseling, extra assistance," says Graham. She also disputes Farrar's notion that the waiting period imposes an emotional burden on women. "When a pregnant woman is considering a surgery that will end the life of her unborn child, of course she's gonna have doubt," she says.
With Republicans in control of both houses of the Legislature and Governor Perry staunchly in the pro-life camp, Farrar's bill faces long odds. In fact, this week bills were filed in the House and Senate that would effectively ban abortions 20 weeks after conception unless the life or immediate health of the mother is in danger. Rep. Farrar did not respond to KTRH's request for comment.