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Rick Perry Suggests Joan Rivers May Have Survived If Abortion Laws Were Stricter

22/09/2014 13:53 BST | Updated 22/09/2014 13:59 BST

Stricter abortion laws could have saved the life of Joan Rivers, a serious politician has suggested in a bizarre comment attempting to connect the late comedian to the controversial legislation he approved.

Texas governor Rick Perry, who may yet run for president again, presided over tougher laws that forced abortion clinics to upgrade themselves to ambulatory surgery centres and effectively become "mini-hospitals", in the words of one campaigner.

Opponents of the law called it an attack on access to abortion and it has forced 20 of the state's 41 abortion clinics to close when they could not afford to meet the new standard, since it was introduced last year.

When asked about why he supported the bill at the Texas Tribune Festival on Sunday, the Republican governor brought up Rivers, who died earlier this month, aged 81.

rick perry

Rick Perry was speaking at the Texas Tribune Festival on Sunday

“It was interesting that when Joan Rivers and the procedure that she had done, where she died – that was a clinic," he said.

"And I’m just – it’s a curious thought that if they had had that type of regulations in place, whether or not that individual would be still alive.”

Rivers suffered cardiac arrest and died of complications during throat surgery.

Further details have not been made public and it has been the subject of claims and angry denials.

A doctor who performed the surgery had to deny she had taken a selfie during the procedure in the operating room last week.

The surgery was performed at an ambulatory surgery centre in New York - the same standard the Texas law requires, which Perry may not have been aware of.

Abortion-rights supporters condemned Perry's comparison.

"The reality is that complications happen in all areas of medicine. There's risk inherent in just about anything. You could have a heart attack and die while having your wisdom teeth removed. Should we outlaw wisdom teeth removal?" Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas told The Associated Press.