One woman had to carry her baby, missing much of her skull, for months knowing she’d bury her daughter soon after she was born. Another started mirroring the life-threatening symptoms that her baby was displaying while in the womb. An OB-GYN found herself secretly traveling to Colorado to abort her wanted pregnancy, marred by the diagnosis of a fatal fetal anomaly.
All of the women were told they could not end their pregnancies in Texas, a state that has enacted some of the nation’s most restrictive abortion laws.
Now, they’re asking a Texas court to put an emergency hold on some abortion restrictions, joining a lawsuit launched earlier this year by five other women who were denied abortions in the state, despite pregnancies they say endangered their health or lives.
More than a dozen Texas women in total have joined the Center for Reproductive Rights’ lawsuit against the state’s law, which prohibits abortions unless a mother’s life is at risk — an exception that is not clearly defined. Texas doctors who perform abortions risk life in prison and fines of up to $100,000, leaving many women with providers who are unwilling to even discuss terminating a pregnancy.
“Our hope is that it will allow physicians at least a little more comfort when it comes to patients in obstetrical emergencies who really need an abortion where it’s going to effect their health, fertility or life going forward,” Molly Duane, the lead attorney on the case, told The Associated Press. “Almost all of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit tell similar stories about their doctors saying, if not for this law, I’d give you an abortion right now.”
The lawsuit serves as a nationwide model for abortion rights advocates to challenge strict new abortion laws states that have rolled out since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year. Sixteen states, including Texas, do not allow abortions when a fatal fetal anomaly is detected while six do not allow exceptions for the mother’s health, according to an analysis by KFF, a health research organization.
Duane said the Center for Reproductive Rights is looking at filing similar lawsuits in other states, noting that they’ve heard from women across the country. Roughly 25 Texas women have contacted the organization about their own experiences since the initial lawsuit was filed in March.
See here and here for more on the original lawsuit. A copy of the amended suit, which will be heard in Travis County, is here. The story has details about several of the new plaintiffs – as we have seen, too many times before, these were wanted pregnancies that ran into deadly complications, and the effect on these women because of the strict restrictions on what doctors can do now is harrowing – with more about them here. I haven’t seen any further coverage of this yet, which annoys me. There was a brief moment, in the 2022 campaign and at the beginning of the legislative session, when there were a few words spoken by Republicans about maybe softening the super-strict bans just a little, to include rape and incest exceptions and clarify the “life/health of the mother” situation. That got shot down by the usual suspects, and instead we get some more anti-abortion crap, this time being slipped into a bill to extend Medicaid coverage to 12 months for new mothers. So yeah, I’m very invested in this litigation. The press release from the Center for Reproductive Rights is here, and they have more in their Twitter thread.