Part One: Against The Bill Texas’ Sonogram Bill, Two Women, Two Very Different Opinions

Sonogram bills have caused heated debates around the country. Texas has been living with its version for the past few months. While it's a much talked about topic legislatively, the silence on the part of women affected by this bill has been apparent. This is part one of a two part series, examining both sides of the issue.

If you want an abortion in the State of Texas, you’d be subject to a sonogram twenty-four hours before the procedure. The doctor will show you an image of the fetus which you can refuse to see. However you will have to listen to the description of the fetus and the heartbeat.

Elizabeth Graham from Texas Right to Life says this is a step forward for women.

“And so the sonogram and the verbal description of the unborn child is definitely an excellent way to strengthen informed consent before an abortion. You would see that type of informed consent before any other surgical procedure and an abortion of course is a life changing surgical procedure.”

Brenda Sendejo completely disagrees.

“There was something severely wrong with forcing women under the guises of informed consent to listen to such a thing in such a state.”

If you’ve been following the life of the sonogram bill, Brenda Sendejo’s name might be familiar to you. She’s an anthropology professor from Southwestern University who spoke out against the bill last year in the Senate. Sendejo had an abortion after she discovered her fetus was terminally ill with a chromosomal abnormality. In fact, Sendejo was the reason the bill was amended to allow women with fetal abnormalities to be exempt from the sonogram.

She still wrestles with her role in that.

“Did it make a difference and was it worth it? I’m still trying to make peace with that. I think that it was and that it brought a lot of these issues to the foreground that I think maybe weren’t there before.”

For Sendejo “the issues” around this bill basically came down to women’s rights. When she had an abortion, the law in affect meant she had to listen to a voice mail describing her fetus, which was at 14 weeks. She felt she lost all autonomy over her own body. 

“I was forced unwillingly to listen to a traumatic description of the fetus at 14 weeks. I was forced women are going to be forced to have transvaginal sonograms in order to assert their constitutional rights. It’s punishment. It’s punishing someone who’s already made a decision, a decision and this is the part that I can’t be silent about. I can’t be silent about it.”

Speaking out comes at a price though. In Sendejo’s case, it was the onslaught of media attention which made her reluctant to speak up again.

“Even thinking about this interview … it was very difficult for a few hours. I thought about canceling and I broke down a couple of times thinking about it and what it would do in bringing up these things. And it has, but if it helps to bring attention just to a little bit of this story of the resounding affects this is having on women and their lives.”

Brenda Sendejo’s reaction is evidence of the affect this bill is having on women in Texas. It’s an issue that continues to be polarizing. Tomorrow we’ll hear from another woman who’s been through an abortion, but supports the new law.


Edel Howlin

Edel Howlin

Executive Producer, Special Projects

Edel is an executive producer of special projects working on station-wide, multi-platform initiatives such as DiverseCity and Houston Public Media's political podcast Party Politics. At Houston Public Media, Edel started as a reporter covering veteran issues and the quirkier side of life in Houston. Before her time in public radio she worked for...

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