Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Saturday announced plans to give emergency designation to a bill (SB 16) that would require a woman seeking an abortion to view a sonogram, listen to the fetal heartbeat and then sign a document stating that she received the sonogram and understands the consequences of abortion, the Austin American-Statesman reports. Under the bill, a physician would also have to explain the ultrasound, describing the fetus’ internal organs, extremities and cardiac activity. Unless the governor declares a bill an emergency, the Legislature cannot vote on it for the first 60 days of a legislative session.
The governor announced the plan at the Texas Rally for Life, saying the bill would help women from making “the biggest mistake of their lives.” Similar bills have been proposed in the past, but died once they got to the state House. Opponents said Perry is using this legislation as a means of distracting voters from the fact that the state is $27 billion short of funds needed to keep government services going and is expecting budget cuts for public schools and the state’s Medicaid program (Lindell, Austin American-Statesman, 1/23).
Virginia Overturns HPV Vaccine Mandate
In other state news, the Virginia House of Delegates on Friday voted 61-33 to approve a bill (HB 1419) that would overturn the state’s 2007 law that girls must be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus before they enter sixth grade, the Washington Post reports. In the U.S., only Virginia and the District of Columbia have such a requirement. Parents in both jurisdictions can opt out of the requirement. Bill sponsor Del. Kathy Byron (R) said, “We just want to make sure parents are evaluating the risks of what they’re giving their daughters and not a legislative body.” However, Del. Christopher Stolle (R), an OB-GYN, said that removing the mandate could lead to the deaths of 1,300 more women annually.
The bill is unlikely to pass in the state Senate, and Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) has not taken a position on the issue, according to a spokesperson (Helderman/Kunkle, Washington Post, 1/22).
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