On February 10, 2011, several pro-life organizations hosted a “2 Heartbeats” lobby day at the Texas Capitol to promote the sonogram bill by then-Sen. Dan Patrick and then-Rep. Sid Miller. The day was supposed to start with a live sonogram at our morning press conference in the Speaker’s press room. A young mom who chose life at a crisis pregnancy center, scheduled to have a live sonogram during the press conference that morning, was running late and wouldn’t make it in time. The cameras and the legislators were already gathering in the press room. The sonogram machine and table were all set up.
I was 11 weeks, five days pregnant with my daughter Belén (Spanish for Bethlehem) at the time and working as a public policy analyst for Texas Alliance for Life. Some of the organizers asked if I’d be willing to have a live sonogram at the press conference. After texting my husband to make sure he was ok with missing out on our child’s first sonogram, I said “sure.” I lied down on the table, and the sonographer turned on the machine. That’s when I first laid eyes on our daughter in the speaker’s press room with Sen. Patrick recording and tweeting the entire thing. During the sonogram, we saw her wave, and we even saw her grasp her umbilical cord. Her sonogram and recorded heartbeat would be all over the news that night in the stories highlighting the proposed sonogram legislation, so we quickly had to let friends and family know that we were expecting our second child.
Belén’s sonogram and heartbeat were featured in most news stories regarding the sonogram bill throughout that legislative session. Just about every time I watched a news story about the sonogram bill, I got to hear my baby’s heart beating while she kicked away inside my womb — what a unique experience. Thankfully, the sonogram bill did pass the Texas Legislature in 2011 and then-Gov. Perry signed it into law. I was honored to attend the bill signing ceremony with my colleagues from TAL and leaders from other pro-life organizations. My OB-GYN also lobbied for the sonogram bill and attended the bill signing with us. On August 12, 2011, he would deliver our beautiful Belén Elizabeth in record speed (we barely made it to the hospital in time!) the morning after Gov. Perry’s first presidential debate.
The Texas sonogram bill has been in effect for 10 years now. Since 2011, pregnant women in Texas have had the right to see their unborn child’s sonogram and hear their child’s heartbeat 24 hours before having an abortion. In 2010, before the sonogram law went into effect, there were 77,592 abortions reported in Texas, according to the Texas Health and Human Services Induced Terminations of Pregnancy Report. In 2020, there were 53,949. That’s a decrease of 23,643 abortions per year in just a decade. Of course, Texas has passed many other pro-life laws, and abortion totals are declining nationally as younger generations are more pro-life. Hence, there is no way to definitively know how many thousands of lives the sonogram law has saved. But indeed, it has played a role in saving many lives from abortion in Texas. What an honor it is to be able to look at my lovely 10-year-old daughter, Belén, and know she played a tiny part in helping pass the sonogram bill, even before she was born, and that children are alive in Texas today because of her witness from the womb.
Thank you, Gov. Perry, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Rep. Sid Miller, for your tireless work on the sonogram bill and always standing for life! Thank you, Texas Alliance for Life, for allowing me to fight for women and children these past 13 years. To God be the glory.
Cheers to my daughter, to countless children alive, to countless mothers spared from the horrors of abortion. This heartbeat’s for you:
Texas Health and Human Services ITOP Reports: https://www.hhs.texas.gov/about-hhs/records-statistics/data-statistics/itop-statistics
Deidre Cooper is a Public Policy Analyst for Texas Alliance for Life.