In a new legal battle against state restrictions, five women in Texas are suing the state over its restrictive abortion ban. Despite their pregnancies endangering their lives, these women were denied abortions, which is causing confusion among doctors who fear repercussions for helping these women. The Center for Reproductive Rights is providing legal representation for the women, arguing that the law is creating a dangerous situation in which pregnant women are forced to wait until they’re at death’s door for medical care.
Similar legal challenges to abortion restrictions have arisen in other states since the Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. As clinics shutter in Republican-dominated states with strict abortion bans, some patients are forced to travel out of state to receive medical care.
The lawsuit filed by the five women and two doctors details harrowing stories in which medical professionals refused to provide the necessary care until the women were at death’s door. One woman, Amanda Zurawski, had to wait until she developed blood poisoning before being provided with an abortion. The others had to travel out of state for care that wasn’t legally allowed in Texas.
The group wants clarification of the law, which they say is written vaguely and has made medical professionals wary of facing liability if the state doesn’t consider the situation a medical emergency. In addition, doctors in Texas now face felony charges if they perform abortions in all circumstances except when the life of the patient is in danger.
The anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life, however, maintains that the lawsuit deals with very specific medical situations, two of which were cases that the existing law would have protected as medical emergencies. In the other three cases, dealing with disabilities of the fetus or a recommendation from a doctor to abort one fetus to give a twin a better chance of survival, an abortion would have been prohibited, according to the group.
Doctors in Texas are afraid to speak publicly about their reservations on this matter, fearing retaliation, and this fear is causing widespread confusion and fear, leading to a lack of obstetric care, including abortion care. This problem was described by Dr. Damla Karsan in the lawsuit.
Anna Zargarian recounted how she had to travel to Colorado to get an abortion after her water broke prematurely, which doctors said could cause severe illness and the unlikely survival of the fetus. Lawmakers and politicians were blamed for the medical decisions made, which did not follow best medical practice.