Federal Judge Blocks Texas Abortion Restriction

Fusion's Alicia Menendez reports on the closing of abortion clinics across Texas and the legal battle over new abortion laws in the state.
7:02 | 08/31/14

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Transcript for Federal Judge Blocks Texas Abortion Restriction
It's a heated debate across the country. And this week, the focus turned to Texas. A federal judge ruling new restrictions on abortion clinics there are unconstitutional. Both sides weigh in on what happens next. After the background from Alicia Menendez. Of our sister network, fusion. Reporter: Thanks to strict new Texas laws, this San Antonio abortion clinic was preparing to be one of the handful open in the state starting tomorrow. That changed Friday when a federal judge threw out the new rules. Calling them unconstitutional. Writing the overall effect of the provisions is to create an impermissible obstacle for women seeking abortions. A victory for this woman. This is an operating room. Reporter: Her organization was forced to close two clinics that did not meet the standards. She showed us some of what was required. Vacuum pumps. Boiler. Generator. Surgical area. Reporter: The house bill 2 was passed last year. It had two parts. All clinics had to be outfitted as ambulatory surgical centers. The clinic doctors had to have admitting privileges in hospitals. In 2014, 41 clinics in Texas. That number dropped to 20 when the first part of this was put in place. Had the law stood, the state was looking at seven clinics remaining. She said the costs were overwhelming.:v To operate an ambulatory surgical center, you're talking about an increase of $40,000 a month. Reporter: A lot of people would say, $40,000, that must be going increased quality of care. Are they right? Absolutely not. It does nothing for safety. Reporter: The restriction sparked a heated political debate where state senator Wendy Davis shot to prominence with her fillibuster trying to block them. A national legal debate, too. Judges blocking similar restrictions by pro-life supporters in four states. Dr. Joe pojnar says they've been watching other states closely. We're moving forward, little by little. It's baby steps. But we're consoled by the fact that abortions are on the decline. We're seeing that like never before, there are enormous Numbers of pro-life pregnancy resource centers. That is a big advancement in the pro-life movement. Reporter: He said the goal of the new rules was safety for women. The motivation for house bill 2 is to assure that women are not treated at a lower standard of care than a woman who has a surgical procedure for a miscarriage. Reporter: Prominent medical groups like the American medical association and the American congress of obstetricians and gynecologists disagree. It's absolutely about restricting access. It's not about safety. Reporter: Abortion providers say limiting access is a problem for women. Are they self-inducing? Are they looking for drugs in the market? Looking for providers that could do these procedures illegally? Right here. Reporter: The San Antonio clinic sees patients from three states. We asked one patient what if the clinic wasn't in the town where you live? It just wouldn't happen. It just wouldn't happen. I have two children. One a toddler. One in elementary school. Regardless of anything that I have a job, a full-time job. Reporter: Dr. Pojman says his organization will continue to push for stricter clinic rules. My goal is that in five years, far more women who are pregnant are choosing childbirth because they know it's the best option for them. Reporter: For "This week," I'm Alicia Menendez. Thank you, Alicia. Joining us, Carol Tobias, president of the national right to life and David brown from the center for reproductive rights. He was also an attorney on the Texas case. David brown, you were part of the legal team. Governor Rick Perry pledged an appeal right away. What are your chances? We think they're good. We know that for the past 42 years, the federal courts have consistently reaffirmed the rule laid down in roe V. Wade that abortion is a fundamental right for women in the country. We expect the rule of law to be applied. They're arguing this is an undue burden on the women. It is an undue burden, at least that's what they would see it as, on the abortion facilities. They don't want to meet the minimum of safety standards. You heard in the piece. The American medical association and the American association of obstetrics and gynecologists, these standards are not needed for safety. But it's not up to the state or at least it shouldn't be up to the sate to make it easier for women to kill their unborn children. That's what's happening here. And this is about restricting access, is that what you believe is happening here, restricting access? Or is it about safety? It's about both. We want to protect unborn children from death. We want to protect the women who are going to be harmed by abortion. It might not be an immediate physical reaction. There are long-term physical consequences. Long-term mental and emotional consequences to abortion. This is about protecting women and children. Is there a link between closing the clinics down and stopping abortions? David? Absolutely there is. You heard Carol say it. The goal of the laws is to shutter abortion clinics. As your introduction made clear, there's no medical reason behind this law. Carol, your own medical director said at your annual conference the year that abortion is one of the very safest medical procedures that a woman can have. She was pointing out figures they would use -- Go ahead and rely on. You're using figures that she was referring to the information that you would use. She is not referring to the immediate -- the long-term consequences, physical and emotional. Do you worry that if people can't get abortions that they'll go elsewhere that are less safe? There are thousands of pregnancy resource centers in the country that will help a woman, free help, during a difficult time in her life. The abortion advocates are trying to shut them down. For trying to help the women. None of these resource options provide abortions. So by shuttering clinics where women can get safe, legal abortions -- Does this end up in the supreme court? David, quickly? It's difficult to say. There are many cases they can take regarding abortion. We're confident that if one of these cases ends up in the supreme court that the court will do what it has done consistently, reaffirm the right to choose abortion. It will probably end up there. We think the Texas law has a

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