AG Paxton Joins 16-State Brief Defending Informed Consent and Respect for Unborn Life

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Texas Border Business

AUSTIN – Joining a coalition of 16 states, Attorney General Ken Paxton today urged the U.S. Supreme Court to take up and ultimately overturn a lower court decision blocking an Indiana law requiring a woman seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound examination 18 hours before the procedure as part of an informed consent policy.

Last July, a panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the ultrasound provision of Indiana’s Dignity for the Unborn Act – signed into law by then-Governor Mike Pence in 2016 – imposes an undue burden on women seeking abortions. The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood challenged the law.

In their brief, Attorney General Paxton and his counterparts pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed a state’s ability to regulate the informed-consent process to ensure that patients can adequately assess the risks and consequences of the abortion procedure.

“Legislation enacted in Indiana, Texas and other states serves to protect life by ensuring that a woman seeking an abortion is fully informed when considering the devastating impact of such a life-ending decision,” Attorney General Paxton said. “We will fight any attempt to block these reasonable state laws that value and protect the health of the mother and the life of the unborn.”

In 2011, then-state Representative Paxton co-authored and passed House Bill 15, which requires an expectant mother to view a sonogram and hear her unborn child’s heartbeat prior to consenting to an abortion. The Texas Sonogram Law was challenged and upheld in 2012 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

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Approximately 26 states have laws requiring a physician to provide certain information to a patient when obtaining informed consent to perform an abortion procedure. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed a state’s ability to regulate the informed-consent process to ensure that patients can adequately assess the risks and consequences of the abortion procedure, rejecting First Amendment challenges to those laws.

Texas joined the friend-of-the-court brief with Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and West Virginia. 

View a copy of the brief here.

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