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Ian McColgin
09-02-2011, 07:11 PM
Judge Sam Sparks calls 2 lawyers onto the Romper Room carpet

By
Christy Hoppe/Reporter
choppe@dallasnews.com | Bio
2:43 PM on Wed., Aug. 31, 2011 | Permalink

It's rare that an order from a federal judge goes viral, but then U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin is on a roll.

Tuesday, he tossed out many of the provisions in the state's anti-abortion law that required patients to undergo a sonogram and hear a detailed description of fetal development. Sparks found the law, ordering doctors to tell unwilling patients descriptions they did not wish to hear, went too far.

In that case, he caused some buzz with a footnote in his decision that read: 
"It is ironic that many of the same people who zealously defend the state's righteous duty to become intimately involved in a woman's decision to get an abortion are also positively scandalized at the government's gross overreaching in the area of health care."

But enough about the sonogram. The latest Sparks decision clogging email accounts (mostly of lawyers) this day is a 2-page rebuke of some attorneys who had been squabbling over depositions in a Louisiana case. One lawyer tried to involve the court. The judge showed his displeasure by ordering the attorneys to show up in his courtroom on Thursday for a remedial law class.

"Greetings and Salutations!" Sparks began. "You are invited to a kindergarten party...The party will feature many exciting and informative lessons" about the law.

He then told the lawyers to bring a sack lunch and even a toothbrush in case the "party ran late" and they got to stay overnight with beds furnished by the U.S. Marshal.

Jonathan L. Woods, a Lafayette, La. attorney who the judge pointedly invited to his courtroom said Wednesday that the hearing had been cancelled. Unlike many who have received a copy of the order by email, he seemed less than amused.

"I've been receiving multiple emails," he said. (No doubt.) "It's not that unusual in what took place. What was unusual was that order," he said.

The other attorney involved, Austin lawyer Travis Barton, was not immediately available for comment. He was in depositions, something that might please Judge Sparks.

Waddie
09-02-2011, 11:02 PM
Sparks found the law, ordering doctors to tell unwilling patients descriptions they did not wish to hear, went too far.

And this opinion was based on constitutional grounds or personal perspective ? It makes a difference.

regards,
Waddie

Ian McColgin
09-03-2011, 06:09 AM
Sparks' main decision, a perfectly legitimate seperate topic which for some reason has not attracted much heat here is solidly couched in constitutional terms. In a nutshell, he held that the state could not require a physician to advocate against an abortion that said physician had found medically appropriate and on which a woman, upon weighing all information, had decided. In short, he found that the requirement that the physician show a sonogram and say "This is your baby whom you want to kill" was wrong.

Ian McColgin
09-03-2011, 06:25 AM
For those who want some thread drift to the actual case and who are at least passingly interested in the legal issues, as opposed to the simple posturing like that which caused Judge Sparks to issue the invite to kindergarten, this is a factually sound Houston Chronicle editorial supporting Sparks:

Federal judge rightly stays sonogram law.

Published 08:10*p.m., Friday, September 2, 2011

Funny how Texas elected officials who constantly denounce federal intrusion into our private lives are quite willing to sanction the most personally invasive of regulations when it suits their own*agenda.

Case in point: the state's new abortion sonogram law, which intrudes into the doctor-patient relationship to require women not only to have preabortion sonograms but to view the fetus in the womb and listen to its heartbeats. It then mandates a 24-hour waiting period before the patient can have an*abortion.

A day before it would have gone into effect, a federal judge appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, Austin's Sam Sparks, issued a temporary restraining order finding some parts of the law unconstitutional and effectively preventing its enforcement. In a reversal of the usual scenario, this time a federal jurist is blocking excessive state intrusion into private*lives.

In a balanced and legally incisive opinion, Judge Sparks left in place the requirement for a preabortion sonogram because that is already standard medical*procedure.

He zeroed in on the provision that requires "the physician who is to perform the abortion" to also be responsible for conducting the sonogram and making the presentation to the patient of both the image and the sound of the fetus 24 hours or more before the procedure can be done. Since several clinic physicians might be involved in such a drawn-out scenario, Judge Sparks found "a physician should not have to gamble his or her entire career (to say nothing of $10,000 and a criminal record) on the mere hope a judge or jury will agree with the physician's interpretation of that*phrase."

Likewise, Judge Sparks found that a provision requiring doctors to provide paternity and child support information to women deciding not to have an abortion imposes an unconstitutional duty on the physician without explaining how or what constitutes compliance with the*law.

In his most significant finding, the judge ruled that the law violates First Amendment rights of both physicians and patients to either speak freely or refrain from speaking at all. In the case of doctors, Sparks wrote that the new law "compels physicians to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity, and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wish to*listen."

The law also requires a woman who wishes to legally decline viewing a preabortion sonogram and hearing a doctor's explanation to sign a form certifying that she meets one of several conditions, including a pregnancy that results from assault or incest. The form would be placed permanently in a woman's medical records and kept by the clinic performing the procedure for at least seven*years.

According to Judge Sparks, it "is difficult to avoid the troubling conclusion that the Texas Legislature either wants to permanently brand women who choose to get abortions, or views these certifications as potential evidence to be used against physicians and*women."

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced the state would appeal the temporary restraining*order.

We hope the challenge fails, and that this blatant attempt to enact barriers to women seeking legal abortions never is*enforced.
2011 Hearst Communications Inc.


John Smith
09-03-2011, 08:13 AM
Sparks' main decision, a perfectly legitimate seperate topic which for some reason has not attracted much heat here is solidly couched in constitutional terms. In a nutshell, he held that the state could not require a physician to advocate against an abortion that said physician had found medically appropriate and on which a woman, upon weighing all information, had decided. In short, he found that the requirement that the physician show a sonogram and say "This is your baby whom you want to kill" was wrong.

I believe the patient would also have to pay for the sonogram. Isn't that forcing a person to buy something?

Waddie
09-03-2011, 11:32 AM
Although I agree with Sparks, I can see where people could have legitimate concerns about abortion becoming simply another form of birth control. It isn't just another innocuous medical "procedure". It can, and sometimes does, have lasting medical and psychological trauma. Perhaps some legislators want a woman to be darn sure that an abortion is really what she wants. After all, it isn't reversible. So I wouldn't object to a requirement that requires counseling and a modest waiting period. But making a woman listen to the heartbeat and view a sonogram may even produce psychological trauma.

regards,
Waddie

Bobcat
09-03-2011, 03:11 PM
Although I agree with Sparks, I can see where people could have legitimate concerns about abortion becoming simply another form of birth control. It isn't just another innocuous medical "procedure". It can, and sometimes does, have lasting medical and psychological trauma. Perhaps some legislators want a woman to be darn sure that an abortion is really what she wants. After all, it isn't reversible. So I wouldn't object to a requirement that requires counseling and a modest waiting period. But making a woman listen to the heartbeat and view a sonogram may even produce psychological trauma.

regards,
Waddie

We all know the reasons for the counseling, hearing the hearbeat and viewing the ultrasound to discourage women from having abortions. It's just that simple.

wardd
09-03-2011, 03:24 PM
Although I agree with Sparks, I can see where people could have legitimate concerns about abortion becoming simply another form of birth control. It isn't just another innocuous medical "procedure". It can, and sometimes does, have lasting medical and psychological trauma. Perhaps some legislators want a woman to be darn sure that an abortion is really what she wants. After all, it isn't reversible. So I wouldn't object to a requirement that requires counseling and a modest waiting period. But making a woman listen to the heartbeat and view a sonogram may even produce psychological trauma.

regards,
Waddie

then those people need not get abortions