AUSTIN, Texas - A federal judge struck down a key provision yesterday of Texas’s new law requiring a doctor to perform a sonogram before an abortion, ruling that the measure violates the free speech rights of both doctors and patients.
The law - one of dozens of antiabortion measures that advanced through state capitals across the United States this year - was set to take effect tomorrow.
A New York-based reproductive rights group had sued to block the law.
US District Judge Sam Sparks said in his ruling that requiring a doctor to show women images from the sonogram and the sounds of the fetal heartbeat violates the First Amendment rights of doctors.
The ruling also struck down a requirement that allows women to avoid seeing the sonogram images only if they sign a statement that they are pregnant because of sexual assault or incest.
The state cannot compel a woman to disclose such private information that she may not even wish to tell police, Sparks ruled.
Sparks called such disclosure an attempt by the state to “permanently brand women who choose to get an abortion.’’