April 16, 2024

Westside People

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Anti-abortion law: Texas brought to justice by 13 women

Anti-abortion law: Texas brought to justice by 13 women

Women who were denied abortions in Texas despite serious complications during pregnancy gave harrowing testimony Wednesday during a hearing in an Austin court after filing a lawsuit against the U.S. government.

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The women, represented by a reproductive rights organization, asked the Texas justice system to clarify “medical exceptions” to laws banning abortion in the conservative state.

According to their complaint filed in March, these exceptions are so vaguely defined that it scares doctors and prevents them from performing abortions even in this context. Texas laws provide for steep fines and up to 99 years in prison for doctors who perform illegal abortions.

In the case of thirteen plaintiffs, the pregnancies were desired but inevitably encountered complications that condemned their fetuses.

The first to tell her story, Amanda Surawsky, said her water broke at 18 weeks pregnant. Her doctor told her that a miscarriage was inevitable, but that it was not possible to induce labor because that would be “considered an illegal abortion.”

She was able to get the procedure done three days later after contracting sepsis, a common infection that led to several days in intensive care and the loss of one of her tubes.

“What happened to me isn’t just happening in Texas, it’s happening to people all over the country,” Amanda Surawski said. “Many people are affected by similar obstacles, and I hope to make this more widely known.”

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Another plaintiff, Samantha Cassiano, was unable to obtain an abortion despite her child being diagnosed with anencephaly – a malformation of the skull and brain. For long weeks, she had to repeat her story to those who congratulated her on her pregnancy. Her daughter died four hours after birth.

“hostile” background

Since the U.S. Supreme Court handed back abortion law to states in a historic ruling in June 2022, about 15 of them have passed more restrictive laws or outlawed abortion.

Texas prohibits voluntary abortion (abortion), at any stage of pregnancy, including intercourse or rape. The only exception is: if the mother is at risk of death or severe disability.

Despite this exception, the “hostile” environment has a deterrent effect on doctors, the Center for Reproductive Rights underscores.

“Even though Texas has a medical exception to the abortion ban, that exception doesn’t work in practice,” said Molly Duane, one of the organization’s attorneys.

The law includes the concept of a “danger to the life” of the mother, but “it is not clear the degree of certainty of this danger or how close it must be,” he said.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is calling for urgent action first: the law banning abortion does not apply if there are medical complications during pregnancy, based on the court’s discretion when the file is reviewed.

He argues that the move is “necessary to prevent the current public health crisis caused by the confusion and uncertainty surrounding the medical exemption.”

The state of Texas, the plaintiffs’ proposed definition of the medical exemption, would “allow abortions for pregnant women with medical concerns ranging from headaches to depression,” he says. He requested that the complaint be dismissed.

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The hearing will continue on Thursday.