Proposed legislation requiring a sonogram before an abortion "not only sets a dangerous precedent of legislation prescribing the details of the practice of medicine, but it also clearly mandates that physicians practice in a manner inconsistent with medical ethics," TMA warns in a letter to the chair of the Senate State Affairs Committee.
The letter from TMA President Susan Rudd Bailey, MD, to Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) concerns Senate Bill 16 by Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston). The bill requires all women to have a sonogram before an abortion.
"TMA's member physicians fall on both sides of the abortion debate," Dr. Bailey's letter says. "TMA's concerns regarding SB 16, however, do not pertain to that highly political issue. However, TMA is concerned about the dangerous precedent SB 16 and related legislation would set for health care in Texas – a precedent that would lay the foundation for future lawmakers to establish the details of the interaction between physicians and patients, and allow nonphysicians to mandate what tests, procedures, or medicines must be provided to patients and in what time frame."
She added that the "sanctity of the patient-physician relationship is the foundation of health care in America, and it must be preserved to ensure candid communication and allow patients to evaluate their care options. The legislature's role should not be to dictate how physicians and patients communicate with one another or what procedures and diagnostic tests must be performed on a given patient."
The State Affairs Committee approved a revised version of the bill and sent it to the full Senate after a hearing Feb. 9. The vote was 7-1.
As originally filed, the measure would require a physician to perform a sonogram before an abortion, explain the procedure as it is performed, and require the patient to view the image and hear the heartbeat. However, the committee approved a substitute with several amendments. The measure now gives a patient the option to refuse seeing and hearing the sonogram altogether. It also changed the amount of time between sonogram and abortion from 2 hours to 24 hours.
Action, Feb. 15, 2011