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Sunday Morning Headlines for January 29, 2012

Implementing the 'Sonogram Law'

The Texas Tribune has this look at the practicalities of implementing the state's sonogram law - which requires abortion providers to show a sonogram image and play the fetus' heartbeat for the mother within 24 hours of performing an abortion. Clinics say complying with the law has become a "bureaucratic nightmare".

For the patients, the process of obtaining an abortion has lengthened. Instead of having a sonogram and receiving an abortion in a single day, they must spread out their visits, often taking a second or third day off of work, paying double for transportation and child care, and delaying the procedure. [Whole Women's Health clinic founder Amy] Hagstrom Miller said that on a recent weekend, a family played soccer all day in a nearby field while their mother waited to have an abortion.   And at the intersection of the abortion provider and the patient is conflict: women blame clinics, not the Legislature, for the multiday inconvenience, leading to angry phone calls from patients and hours of extra time on the phone scheduling appointments.

Abortion opponents say the new requirements are necessary, because abortion should not be held to a lower standard than any other surgical procedure.

Is Water Too Cheap?

The Austin American-Statesman asks that question this morning. The answer from many water policy wonks appears to be "yes" (although some consumers might disagree).

One clear indication that Texans need to rethink how they value water came when the state asked for $53 billion in improvements to prepare the state for a record-breaking drought in the next 50 years. The cheapest strategy in the Texas Water Development Board's 2012 water plan is conservation, which would account for 24 percent of the new supply by 2060; the costliest, desalination, would account for about 3.4 percent of the new supply. But the prospect of a future crisis doesn't necessarily make consumers more willing to open their wallets. "It can be hard to convince ratepayers that they need to pay more money to get that security in their supply," said Robert Mace, the board's deputy executive administrator for water science and conversation. It may come as little surprise, then, that lawmakers have failed to ensure sustainable funding for the water plan.  

Speaking of Water...

Residents in Georgetown Village and Sun City are being asked to limit water use today, especially outdoor watering.

The Lake Water Treatment Plant will be offline for most of the day while construction crews work on an expansion of the plant. Georgetown officials want residents to avoid using irrigation or sprinkler systems.

The water watch ends at midnight.

Matt Largey is the Projects Editor at KUT. That means doing a little bit of everything: editing reporters, producing podcasts, reporting, training, producing live events and always being on the lookout for things that make his ears perk up. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mattlargey.
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