Thursday, January 12, 2012

Texas (and U.S.) Catholics had plenty to celebrate after a ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. After months of litigation, a three-judge panel brushed off a challenge to Texas's sonogram law that Governor Rick Perry championed and paved the way for leaders to start enforcing the policy. Writing for the group, Chief Judge Edith Jones was frank about the other side's failure "to demonstrate constitutional flaws with the law," which requires women to have a sonogram 24 hours before an abortion. The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) also picked a fight over the second part of the law, which orders doctors to explain where the baby is in its development before their patients consent to an abortion. CRR fought to keep women in the dark, arguing that it somehow violates a doctor's free speech rights to give patients the medical facts about their pregnancies. Like most people, the justices dismissed that logic completely, noting that the law only asks doctors to provide "truthful, non-misleading information"--an apparent rarity in the abortion industry, since Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said that asking people to be honest about the procedure sets "an abhorrent precedent." Her organization recognizes that the biggest weapon in the abortion debate is the ultrasound machine. For thousands of women, this window into the womb is the only persuasion they need to reconsider abortion. And, as Richards's group has proved, pro-abortion activists will do everything in their power to stop mothers from recognizing the personhood of their unborn babies. As Judge Jones said, the state has "legitimate interests in protecting the potential life within her." "Denying her up-to-date medical information," Jones wrote, "is more of an abuse to her ability to decide than providing the information." This is a country where Americans can't even play paintball without signing a paper acknowledging the risks. How does it possibly make sense to let women undergo a major surgical procedure without giving them all the facts? Perry is grateful that the state can move forward in helping women understand "the devastating impact of such a life-ending decision." State Senator Dan Patrick (R) also cheered the verdict. "...[O]ur goal from the beginning was to protect the woman's right to know, protect the unborn, and protect the constitution." While CRR has not decided whether or not to appeal to the full Circuit Court, Judge Jones hinted that the chance of success would be slim, since "the parties who sued have not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits." The media may be calling it a victory for pro-lifers, but in this case, women and their babies are the real winners. While Texans still have the right to "choose," at least they'll finally know what they're choosing.