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Originally published Monday, March 7, 2011 at 9:47 PM

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Rival Texas bills require sonograms before abortions

The Texas House and Senate may be headed toward a standoff over differing bills that would require a woman seeking an abortion to first...

The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas House and Senate may be headed toward a standoff over differing bills that would require a woman seeking an abortion to first have a sonogram.

The author of the House bill, which the chamber passed Monday, said it's just a matter of who blinks first.

"I'm going to keep our bill as tight as we can," said Republican Rep. Sid Miller.

The House bill, approved 107-42, will now be sent to a Senate committee. The House has yet to pick up the Senate version of the bill that passed a few weeks ago.

Usually, the two chambers would send lawmakers to a conference committee to work out differences. But because each house worked on its own version, one chamber is going to have to pick up the other's bill for that to happen.

The issue was put on a fast track by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, but the standoff threatens quick passage of the measure.

Senate author Dan Patrick, a Republican, promised his colleagues during the debate on the bill that he would not accept a House version that was either "watered down" or "on steroids."

Patrick said the process could have been quicker if the House had taken up the Senate version and put its language in as a substitute.

"The way they have managed this has left a lot of people scratching their heads," he said.

Under the Senate version, a woman would have to be given the opportunity to see a sonogram image within two hours of an abortion and hear a fetal heartbeat. She could decline the options but a doctor would still describe what he or she sees. The oral description could be waived under certain conditions, including rape or incest.

"There is a sticking point on the rape and incest provision," Patrick said. "That is an issue the Senate will insist upon."

Miller said he won't give in on the provision because it is already inherent in the language of the bill that the woman does not have to look at the sonogram.

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He also said the two-hour waiting period is insufficient. He said the House's 24-hour waiting period would allow the woman to "pray about it or visit with her family."

"I'm not giving up anything until I get something," Miller said.

Staff writer Terrence Stutz contributed to this report.

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