WEST COLUMBIA, South Carolina — When GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul was asked today about Tuesday’s federal court ruling upholding an aggressive new sonogram law in his home state of Texas, the congressman said the requirement that women seeking an abortion first get a sonogram “should always have been a Texas state position.’’
“Like Roe v Wade should never have been heard in the Supreme Court,” he said after a midday speech and rally at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport at the Eagle Aviation Building .
Paul, who opposes abortion rights, has consistently railed against intrusive Big Brother government when it comes to other issues, especially health care reform. But it’s hard to imagine anything more literally invasive than a required sonogram.
In fact, Dr. Paul’s colleagues in the Texas Medical Association came out against the law last year, saying it “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.”
At issue are provisions in the law, upheld by this week’s ruling from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, requiring patients seeking an abortion to first undergo a sonogram .
This is not a small thing. The majority of sonograms for women in their first trimester of pregnancy will be done by vaginal probe, The Dallas Morning News reports, because ultrasounds done externally don’t provide a useful image early in a pregnancy.
Women can, under the new law, sign a waiver choosing not to be presented with the image or heartbeat sound, but they can’t avoid the sonogram itself. And even if patients sign the waiver, the new law will require doctors to read a detailed description of the physical characteristics of the fetus revealed through the sonogram.
Then patients have to wait at least 24 hours before having the procedure.
Doctors who don’t comply with the law can lose their medical licenses.
Critics say the law impinges on doctors’ free speech rights by requiring them to say certain things to patients, even if the doctors believe it’s not in their patients’ interests.
But Paul’s supporters in South Carolina Wednesday seemed divided on the new law.
Kayla Crisp, a 23-year-old from Asheville, N.C., is a fervent Paul volunteer who drove 16 hours to work for him in Iowa. She’s a part-time nanny and student at UNC-Asheville in early childhood education who home schools her own 3-year-old daughter, Ember:
“I am personally pro-life,’’ she said, but added that she does not think abortion is “a federal issue. It should be state-regulated.”
When I asked her personal view on the sonogram law, she said: “It’s kind of invasive. It’s belittling to sit in a doctor’s office” waiting to hear “what’s going on in my body.”
Mary C. Curtis, reporting from South Carolina, is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Charlotte, N.C. Lori Stahl is a Dallas-based journalist who writes about politics.