Alex Witt   |  July 13, 2013

Texas passes 20-week abortion bill

The Texas Senate approved new abortion restrictions, limiting the number of clinics and the time women in the state can get an abortion to 20 weeks. The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Perry to sign. NBC’s Charles Hadlock reports from Austin.

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>>> battle in the statehouse, texas is going to adopt one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country. after a late-night session, the senate passed a bill that will ban abortions after 20 weeks and also place restrictions on abortion clinics and the doctors who perform them. the bill now goes to governor rick perry , who is poised to sign it into law. now, both sides of the debate flooded the state capital in austin to voice their opinions.

>> if i ever become pregnant, i won't have the option of getting an abortion. it's my choice and no one else's.

>> we'll push it all the way to the point where abortion is called what it really is, which is the murder of the child.

>> and that's murder, and that should be illegal.

>> nbc's charles hadlock is in austin , joining us to talk more about this. the first thing i want to ask you, charles , is walk us through this bill. what does it mean for women who are choosing to have an abortion?

>> well, good morning, betty. first of all, there are about 41 abortion clinics in texas , and the critics of this bill say that this will effectively close all by a handful of them. it really restricts abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and it also requires that doctors be affiliated with a nearby hospital. they have to have admitting privileges to a nearby hospital, within 30 miles of a hospital. they also require that these abortion clinics be upgraded to ambulatory surgical centers. now, the supporters of the bill say that will make it safer. surgical procedures are always complicated and could get complicated and they want to make sure that women are safe in texas . but, the critics of this bill say that it will effectively close these abortion clinics, because they can't afford to make the upgrades and that a lot of the hospitals in rural parts of the state would not allow doctors to perform abortions at their hospitals. so it's a quagmire that the legislature tried to work through. it passed last night, late into the night , senators debated this bill. all of the republicans have voted for it, except for one, who was absent. and all but one of the democrats voted against it. and governor rick perry , as we mentioned, said that he will sign the bill, and that could happen as early as next week.

>> yeah, we've been looking at some of this video here. this is such a hotly debated bill. i mean, fireworks on both sides of this. and you said, governor perry could sign it possibly as early as next week. but what about democrats like winnie davis and other people, who are pro-choice. ion, advocates there. can day do anything at all, at this point, to stop this?

>> well, wendy davis spoke to the crowd last night on the south steps of the capital, and she said that we're going to fight this in the courts and we're going to fight it in the ballot box . and that's about the only option they have right now. of course, the other bills across the country are being pushed through state legislatures . they're being challenged as well. but supporters of this bill say that legal abortion started in texas with roe v. wade , and they say they hope that one day, it will end here in texas . betty?

>> do you think other states are looking very closely at this, to see how it plays out, so they can determine if they want to do the same thing in their states?

>> that's correct. that's one of the legal terms that they used here, to try to sell it, the republicans did, that it makes it safer for women. and if you look at it on the books, it does make it safer. who could argue with having an abortion at a surgical center? but the effect of the bill will close a lot of abortion clinics here in texas .

>> and that could be the reality of all this. all right. nbc's charles hadlock in austin for us. charles , thanks so much.