AUSTIN -- A bill requiring Texas doctors to perform sonograms before abortions was on its way to Gov. Rick Perry's desk Thursday after the House gave final approval.
The Senate approved the bill 21-10 on Tuesday. The House vote Thursday was 96-48.
Perry is certain to sign the bill. He had designated it as emergency legislation at the start of the session.
Because the bill passed the House and the Senate with a two-thirds majority, the law will take effect immediately after Perry signs it.
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"This will be one of the strongest pieces of sonogram legislation in the nation," said Rep. Sid Miller, R-Stephenville, the House bill's author.
"House Bill 15 will protect human life, the lives of the unborn victims of abortion, as well as those facing life-changing decisions. ... This legislation will save numerous unborn lives."
Only three other states require a sonogram for all women seeking an abortion.
The law requires doctors to conduct a sonogram at least 24 hours before an abortion and to provide the woman with the opportunity to see the results and hear the fetal heartbeat. The doctor is also required to describe what the sonogram shows, to include the existence of legs, arms and internal organs.
An exception to the waiting period was made for medical emergencies or for women who live more than 100 miles from the nearest abortion provider.
In cases of incest, rape or fetal abnormality, the woman does not have to hear a description of the fetus.
Proponents said the law is necessary to make sure women understand what an abortion entails.
The Texas Medical Association opposed the bill because it dictates when a doctor must perform a procedure and how the doctor must deal with his or her patient.
While a pre-abortion sonogram is routine, it is not considered a medical necessity.
In the final Senate debate on the bill Monday, Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, said the bill was clearly designed to interfere with women's legal right to an abortion.
"The purpose of the bill is to traumatize women who are seeking an abortion," she said.
In the House, three Democrats voted for the bill and four Republicans voted against.
In the Tarrant County delegation, Lon Burnam and Marc Veasey, both Fort Worth Democrats, voted against it; all Republicans voted for it.
State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, who sponsored the Senate bill, said he expects it to reduce abortions in Texas.
"We believe that if 1 out of 5 women, after seeing the sonogram, hearing the explanation or hearing the heartbeat, change their mind, that's 15,000 lives that can be saved," Patrick said.
Of North Texas-area senators, only Davis voted against the bill.