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5th Circuit Panel Upholds Demeaning Ultrasound Law

Yesterday a three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals chaired by a judge openly hostile to Roe v. Wade reversed a lower court ruling and upheld a demeaning and intrusive Texas ultrasound law that would intimidate and judge women seeking reproductive health care.  In 2011, the Texas legislature attacked women’s health by slashing funding for preventive family planning health care — taking basic health services away from nearly 300,000 low-income women and threatening to completely eliminate the Texas Women’s Health Program, which provides preventive health care, including birth control and lifesaving cancer screenings, to 125,000 low-income women.

Below is a statement issues yesterday from Peter J. Durkin, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc. (PPGC) on the ruling.

“Planned Parenthood is extremely disappointed by the 5th Circuit panel decision issued today that allows Texas politicians to shame and demean women and tell doctors how to practice medicine.  Every Texan should be outraged that politicians are interfering with their most private medical decisions.

“This morning a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Texas can go forward with implementing a mandatory ultrasound law that ignores a woman’s decision, a doctor’s professional opinion and is medically unnecessary.  The panel – led by a vocal anti-choice federal judge - said that adult women seeking an abortion can be forced against their will to have ultrasound images placed in front of them and have the fetal heart tone made audible, if present, for no medical reason.  The court saw no problem in giving the woman no other choice but to cover her eyes and plug her ears if the woman does not want to view the images or listen to the heart tone. 

“This is a continuation of the ongoing assault on Texas women and reproductive health care.  Led by politicians who are out-of-touch with mainstream Texans, this last session the Texas legislature slashed funding for preventive family planning health care—taking basic health services away from nearly 300,000 low-income women. 

“The mandatory ultrasound law is pure politics.  It puts politicians, not doctors, in charge of women’s medical care.  It will not reduce the number of unintended pregnancies or the need for abortion.  The only thing today’s ruling does is make sure that a handful of extremely anti-choice politicians are in control of the private and personal medical decisions of thousands of Texas women.

“Planned Parenthood believes in prevention and providing women with medically accurate, unbiased information so they can make private medical decisions that are best for them.  We will continue providing thousands of women across Texas with compassionate, high-quality preventive reproductive health care and advocating for increased access and information.”