Judge Sparks Criticizes 5th Cir As Texas Sonogram Law Takes Effect

By Robyn Hagan Cain on February 08, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

There are approximately 80,000 abortions in Texas each year, according to the Houston Chronicle. With this week’s implementation of the new Texas sonogram law, there will be approximately 80,000 additional sonograms in the state.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks’ temporary order blocking enforcement of Texas H.B. 15, last month after deciding that the law would likely survive constitutional review in a federal district court.

The Texas sonogram law requires a doctor to perform a sonogram on a woman requesting an abortion at least 24 hours before the procedure, describe the unborn child, and list agencies that offer alternatives to abortion. Noncompliant doctors risk license revocation and a $10,000 fine, reports Politico.

On Monday, Judge Sparks let the bill take effect, noting that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals had tied his hands in the matter. "There can be little doubt that (the law) is an attempt by the Texas Legislature to discourage women from exercising their constitutional rights by making it more difficult for caring and competent physicians to perform abortions," Judge Sparks wrote.

He also criticized the Fifth Circuit for "making puppets out of doctors" and infringing upon their free speech rights, reports Reuters.

(Sidebar: Who wants to guess how Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Edith Jones will feel about Sparks' comments? Judge Jones wrote the Fifth Circuit opinion in the Texas sonogram law challenge, and previously chastised Judge Sparks about his "caustic" rhetoric; isn't this the equivalent of Judge Sparks calling her out?)

The Center for Reproductive Rights continues to challenge the Texas sonogram law, and is requesting an en banc rehearing before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case. Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said "It is a terrible injustice that Judge Sparks could not rule in favor of protecting the constitutional rights of Texas doctors because of the Fifth Circuit panel's decision," reports the Chronicle.

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