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Perry signs sonogram before abortion bill into Texas law

As Gov. Rick Perry touted Texas' new law that requires women seeking abortions to have a sonogram, a national abortion-rights group worked to prepare a legal challenge to what they call one of the most restrictive laws in the country.

Surrounded by supporters, Perry said Tuesday during a ceremonial signing of the bill that Texas women will now have information they need if they decide to end their pregnancies.

"Every life lost to abortion is a tragedy we all must work together to prevent," said Perry, who had designated the measure an "emergency" item this session. "This important bill will ensure that every Texas woman seeking an abortion has all the facts about the life she is carrying and understands the devastating impact of such a life-changing decision."

The law, which takes effect Sept. 1, requires doctors to make the image of the fetus, and the fetal heartbeat, available to a woman, although she may decline to see or hear it.

Doctors must describe the fetus, noting the size and condition of limbs and organs. The law also requires women to wait 24 hours after the sonogram to have an abortion, unless they live more than 100 miles from an abortion provider. In that case, they have to wait two hours.

Exceptions are allowed in emergencies, in cases of incest or rape, or if there are fetal abnormalities.

Bebe Anderson, senior counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York, said her group is preparing to file a lawsuit in Texas to challenge the law.

"One of the big problems is the way it forces women to hear or see information when they have chosen not to do that," Anderson said. "It gets the government in between the doctor and the patient in a totally inappropriate way."

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