The Texas House voted Monday to require women to get a sonogram before ending a pregnancy, approving a tougher measure than adopted by the Senate and potentially derailing legislation that Gov. Rick Perry has declared an "emergency."
The House bill would require many women who want an abortion -- even victims of sexual assault -- to have an ultrasound probe inserted into their uterus at least 24 hours before the procedure.
The measure won initial approval last week after hours of debate and procedural maneuvering by Democrats aimed at slowing its passage. Monday's 107-42 vote, mostly along party lines, was largely procedural.
"I commend the Texas House for passing this legislation, which bolsters our efforts to protect life by ensuring Texans are fully informed when considering such an important decision," Perry said in a statement. "The decision to choose life becomes clear when someone has access to all the information and I look forward to this important legislation reaching my desk very soon."
It was unclear Monday when that might happen. Because the House version is so different than a proposal approved by the Senate last month, House aides said the legislation would have to go back through the committee process in the Senate.
The sponsor of the Senate version, Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said he would gladly approve the more conservative House version, but has warned sponsors there that their version would be a tough sell in his chamber.
"If it were up to me, I would sign off on their bill and let it go to the governor," Patrick said. "We don't have those votes."
The House has also rejected Patrick's version of the bill.
Patrick said he would meet with House members as soon as possible, but was "greatly concerned" that the delay could cause the bill to lose momentum and ultimately die.
"I will move heaven and earth to see that it doesn't happen," Patrick said. "The House has slowed the procedure down unnecessarily."
The House version requires a 24-hour waiting period between the time the sonogram is performed and when the abortion takes place; the waiting period in the Senate's version is only two hours. The Senate version also makes exceptions for cases of rape, incest or when the fetus has fatal abnormalities.
In the House version, doctors who did not perform a sonogram before providing an abortion would lose their medical license. The Senate bill would not punish doctors.
Democrat Rep. Armando Walle of Houston called the measure "the very height of government intrusion into individual Texans' lives."
"This bill is a mandate from the state of Texas that a woman receive an invasive medical procedure with no regard for the doctor-patient relationship," he said.
Rep. Sid Miller, a Republican from central Texas and author of the House legislation, said women wanting an abortion must undergo the sonogram but could look away from the image and wear headphones to avoid hearing a heartbeat.