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Texas Abortion Law Critics Wrong on Closings, Perry Says

Texas Governor Rick Perry
The abortion bill is awaiting Texas Governor Rick Perry's signature after Democrats failed to block a Republican-led state Senate vote last week. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

An abortion bill passed by the Texas legislature won’t close as many of the state’s clinics that offer the procedure as critics of the legislation say, Governor Rick Perry said today.

The legislation bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and requires the state’s 42 abortion clinics to meet standards similar to those for outpatient surgical centers. The measure might leave only five of those 42 clinics able to offer the procedure, state Senator Wendy Davis, a Fort Worth Democrat, and other abortion-rights supporters have said.

“I don’t agree with her premise or her numbers,” Republican Perry, who supports the measure, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program today. “History will prove she’s wrong by asserting that.”

Texas is the largest and most-populous state to pass such rules, part of a widening thrust by abortion opponents and Republican lawmakers nationwide to enact requirements that opponents say are too expensive or logistically impossible to meet. In recent years, similar laws have been blamed for clinic closings in Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The bill is awaiting Perry’s signature after Democrats failed to block a Republican-led state Senate vote last week. It has also passed the Texas House of Representatives.

The Texas bill also would require abortion doctors to obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles (50 kilometers) of the clinic. Most clinics would have to alter facilities to meet the surgical-center standards, which abortion-rights advocates say they can’t afford. Doctors at other clinics may struggle to win admitting privileges.

The measure is consistent with the beliefs of “most people” who think that “six months is too late to be deciding whether or not these babies should be aborted or not, and we put the limit at five months in this bill,” Perry said on the CNN program.

Abortion-rights advocates said the rules were an effort to shut down the state’s abortion clinics and curb abortion in Texas. Supporters described the new requirements as improving health care.

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