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NBC "Meet the Press" - Transcript - Womens' Health

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DAVID GREGORY: Abortion rights, a big issue around the country as states debate this, as they will debate gay marriage. State Senator Wendy Davis joins me now from Texas. She made a big splash this week taking on a bill that would restrict abortion rights in the Texas legislature, taking on Governor Perry as well. Senator Davis, welcome to Meet the Press.

SENATOR WENDY DAVIS: Thank you. Good morning, David.

DAVID GREGORY: For all that you have achieved in terms of your profile and your views, are you not just delaying the inevitable? Governor Perry has another special session that is scheduled. This bill, that would ban abortions after 20 weeks, is likely to become law.

SENATOR WENDY DAVIS: Well, I don't think it's ever acceptable to concede the argument on incredibly important issues like this. And what we saw in the capitol last week really was people who have grown weary of our politicians trying to boost their own political careers on the backs of women by bullying them, and others, honestly, in order to promote agendas that help them personally. These are matters of personal liberty. In Texas, we hold very dear to intrusions against our personal liberty. We fight very hard against that. And we will fight as we begin the session again on Monday.

DAVID GREGORY: But--

SENATOR WENDY DAVIS: I don't--

DAVID GREGORY: Go ahead, finish your thought. I'm sorry.

SENATOR WENDY DAVIS: I was just going to say I don't think that we'll concede that the battle is over. And even if this bill passes, obviously there will be challenges to it going forward.

DAVID GREGORY: The issue at hand, banning abortions after 20 weeks, is actually not as divisive, frankly, as other parts of the abortion debate. You look at some recent polling, which I can put up on the screen indicating even among women there's 50% support for a 20-week abortion ban. Does that concern you, that you're fighting on a particular battleground that, you know, is pretty evenly viewed?

SENATOR WENDY DAVIS: This is an omnibus bill, David, that includes four different provisions, one of which would leave Texas with only five clinics in a state as large as we are; one of which would dramatically decrease the number of doctors who are able to function in this arena. And with that, the turning back of the clock, and putting Texas in a place where women's health care, their ability to seek good health care for their reproductive decision-making, would be seriously foreclosed. And the experts in this arena, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is warning us, "If you do this in Texas, you are putting women's health care in a very dangerous place."

DAVID GREGORY: Senator, do you think a 20-week ban on abortion is acceptable? Do you think it's reasonable?

SENATOR WENDY DAVIS: Right now, that ban of course is being talked about because of the idea of fetal pain. And at the constitutional level, what we of course have assured is that women have the ability to make these reproductive decisions up to the point of viability. That has to remain the key question here.
And of course, when we're talking about that particular issue, there are very, very few. It's used more as an emotional trigger point as part of the argument. But remember, it's a huge omnibus bill that involves many, many other aspects to it that are setting Texas back.

DAVID GREGORY: Let me get reaction to you from Governor Perry's comments about you personally, which a lot of people reacted to. We'll put it on the screen.

GOV. RICK PERRY: [VIDEO]

She was the daughter of a teenage woman. She was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas Senate. It's just unfortunate that she hasn't learned from her own example - that every life must be given the chance to realize its full potential - that every life matters.

DAVID GREGORY: You don't accept the notion that, while he was certainly disagreeing with you, he was holding up your life story in a way to compliment you?

SENATOR WENDY DAVIS: David, my life story is something obviously that belongs to me very personally. And the fact of the matter is that I had choices and chances and opportunities that were provided to me, based on the way I was able to direct my own decision-making. And what I'm working to fight for is to make sure that all women have the ability to do that. I think some of the comments that he made really demeaned the high office that he holds, and I think that's why we saw such a strong reaction to it.

DAVID GREGORY: Senator Davis, thank you very much for your time this morning. I appreciate it. Back to our roundtable, and just a couple minutes left. Pete Williams, one of the things that we've talked about this week is whether this momentum to ban abortions after 20 weeks, to narrow abortion rights, is ultimately going to become a federal issue, and even something the Supreme Court takes up?

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