Texas Sonogram Law
Texas Sonogram Law
Woman’s Right to Know
UPDATE (2/6/2012): During the 2011 legislative session, Section 171.012 of the Health and Safety Code was amended to include additional requirements for women seeking abortions, physicians performing abortions as well as for the Texas Department of State Health Services. The related bill text, HB15, 82nd Legislature, Regular Session can be located here.
What this means: Texas law says your doctor must talk to you about certain things before you can have an abortion. After you get this information, your doctor must wait 24 hours before your abortion can be performed. The law also requires that you receive a sonogram from the doctor (or agent) who will be performing your abortion at least 24 hours before the abortion is to occur. If you live more than 100 miles away from the nearest abortion provider, you can waive this requirement, but you will still be required to have a sonogram by the doctor performing the abortion. It will need to occur at least 2 hours before the abortion, rather than 24 hours before.
Once you arrive at your doctor’s office, and before your sonogram, you will be asked to sign a sonogram/abortion election form. This form certifies that you are aware of the law and its requirements. The doctor will also give you materials to read. One of those materials should be the Resource Directory listed on this webpage. **
During your sonogram, the doctor is required to display the sonogram images and make the heart beat audible. You may decline to view the images and listen to the heartbeat. The doctor must also provide a verbal explanation of the sonogram results. Only women who certify on the sonogram/abortion election form one of the following criteria can decline to hear the verbal explanation:
- the pregnancy is a result of a sexual assault, incest, or other violation of the Penal Code that has been reported to law enforcement authorities or that has not been reported because she reasonably believes that to do so would put her at risk of retaliation resulting in serious bodily injury;
- the woman is a minor and obtaining an abortion in accordance with judicial bypass procedures under Chapter 33, Family Code; or
- the fetus has an irreversible medical condition or abnormality, as medically documented in the woman’s medical file.
HB 15 requires DSHS to publish a comprehensive list of agencies in Texas that offer sonograms at no cost to the pregnant woman and do not affiliate with, refer to or provide abortion related services. The list below, A Woman’s Right to Know Sonogram List, meets this requirement. The list will be added to the existing A Woman’s Right to Know Resource Directory (online and print versions), pending completion of the rules revision process in response to House Bill 15, 82nd Legislature, Regular Session.
**The Downtown Pregnancy Center is on the state’s approved list for a free sonogram prior to an abortion procedure.