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Greg Abbott Defends Stricter Abortion Law, While Opponents Ask Judge To Delay It

Shelley Kofler
Gregg Abbott talked about abortion law after receiving an endorsement at a pancake restaurant in Dallas.

In Dallas on Monday, Attorney General Greg Abbott defended a new state abortion law being challenged in federal court this week.

Abbott, a Republican, talked about the challenge during a stop at an Original Pancake House, which served as the backdrop for the Texas Restaurant Association’s endorsement of Abbott for governor.

Lawyers from his Attorney General’s office were in a federal courtroom in Austin, defending new abortion restrictions scheduled to go into effect Oct. 29.

They are restrictions Abbott’s Democratic opponent for Governor, Sen. Wendy Davis, famously filibustered in June and temporarily derailed with the help of bill opponents gathered at the capitol.

Abortion providers are asking the judge to delay the implementation of the bill which bans most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and requires doctors performing the abortions to have admitting privileges within 30 miles of their clinics. There are also new rules for pill-induced abortions.

Brigitte Amiri with the American Civil Liberties Union says those restrictions violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee for access to a legal abortion because they will cause many clinics to close.

“Actually, they are doing it to put abortion providers out of business, and that is exactly what is going to happen as a result of this law,” Amiri said.

Abbott disagrees.  He says the U.S. Supreme Court has given states the right to protect a mother’s health.

“The reality is we’ve seen some horrific examples across the country where women’s health was damaged because of these procedures. And I believe the law passed by the state legislature takes a step forward by protecting women’s health,” Abbott said.

Abbott’s job as Attorney General requires his office to defend laws passed by the legislature but he is also solidly pro-life and a supporter of the new legislation.

Davis is pro-choice but says she’s also concerned that women will have fewer options for affordable pap smears, breast exams and other health care if the clinics are forced to close.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel will continue hearing arguments Tuesday in Austin.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.