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Texas Women Seeking Abortion Must See or Hear About Fetus First

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Women seeking an abortion in Texas must view an ultrasound image of the fetus or hear a description of it before having the procedure done, the Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled on Tuesday.

The court's decision overrules a lower court judge who deemed that such a practice violates an abortion provider's free speech rights.

Writing for the three-judge panel, Chief Judge Edith Jones said, "The required disclosures of a sonogram, the fetal heartbeat, and their medical descriptions are the epitome of truthful, non-misleading information."

If a woman who wants an abortion refuses to view the image, she must hear the abortion provider's description.  Exceptions are made in the case of rape, incest or fetal abnormality.

Those opposed to the Texas law say that it makes doctors a "mouthpiece" for an ideological message by anti-abortion advocates, thus violating the Constitution's protections against compelled speech.

Pro-choice supporters also said that viewing a sonogram or hearing a fetal heart beat aren't, "medically necessary."  They say the law was intended to harass and intimidate women into not having an abortion.

Similar laws in North Carolina and Oklahoma have been blocked by the courts.

Copyright 2012 ABC news Radio

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