Five women in Texas are suing the state over its abortion laws, alleging that they were denied the ability to legally obtain the procedure even when their pregnancies presented a grave risk to their lives.
After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to upend decades-old federal abortion protections last summer, Texas banned abortion in virtually all circumstances, supposedly making exceptions when a person’s life is at risk due to pregnancy.
Under Texas statutes, however, physicians can be fined up to $100,000 and be imprisoned for up to 99 years for performing an illegal abortion. Because of these penalties, physicians and other providers often refuse to provide the procedure, even in life-or-death emergencies.
The five women in the lawsuit say they were denied abortions in Texas despite the fact that their pregnancies were not viable and could endanger their lives if they continued. Some of the fetuses were developing with abnormalities — two fetuses didn’t develop their skulls, for instance — which presented a significant possibility of hemorrhage or infection for the pregnant women.
Some of the women came frighteningly close to death because they were unable to get an abortion in a timely manner. One of the women, Amanda Zurawski, says she got sepsis twice from her non-viable pregnancy, resulting in scar tissue so severe that one of her fallopian tubes is now permanently closed.
“Because of the law, I very nearly died. Nothing about this is pro-life,” Zurawski said to NBC News.
“The lawsuit aims to hold the state of Texas accountable for the consequences of multiple harmful abortion bans on pregnant people facing obstetric complication,” said a statement from the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the women in the lawsuit.
“Just because Roe v. Wade is no longer the law of the land does not mean that women and pregnant people are without constitutional and basic human rights,” Molly Duane, a senior staff attorney with the group, told NPR.
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