Eight more women joined a lawsuit against the state of Texas on Monday, arguing that the state’s extreme abortion restrictions endangered their health or their lives when they experienced pregnancy-related medical emergencies.
Five women initially sued the Lone Star State in March. A total of 15 people—both patients and doctors—have now signed on to the suit, saying that the laws are unclear and put people’s well-being at huge risk. Texas had implemented a near-total abortion ban in September 2021, even before Roe v. Wade was overturned.
State laws prohibit anyone from getting an abortion unless the pregnant person’s life is at risk. There are no exceptions for a fetus developing an anomaly that would prevent it from surviving past birth, one of the major issues in the lawsuit. Texas doctors who conduct abortions could face life in prison and fines of up to $10,000, meaning that few are willing to discuss giving or referring someone for an abortion.
“Abortion bans are hindering or delaying necessary obstetrical care,” the lawsuit states. “And, contrary to their stated purpose of furthering life, the bans are exposing pregnant people to risks of death, injury, and illness, including loss of fertility—making it less likely that every family who wants to bring children into the world will be able to do so and survive the experience.”
“Medical professionals are now telling their patients that if they want to become pregnant, they should leave Texas.”
One of the plaintiffs, Amanda Zurawski, testified before Congress in April about the toll her state’s abortion laws took on her life. “I nearly died on their watch,” she said of her senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn.
Zurawski’s water broke less than halfway through her pregnancy, but she couldn’t get an abortion because her fetus still had a heartbeat. She went into septic shock before she could get an abortion in the emergency room.
Another plaintiff, Kylie Beaton, learned that her baby’s head was growing abnormally fast, but its brain was not developing properly and likely never would. Even though the baby was unlikely to survive past birth, she couldn’t get an abortion in Texas. The law delayed her care, making it too late for her to seek an abortion out of state, and Beaton was forced to carry the pregnancy to term. She had to deliver via emergency C-section because of how big the baby’s head was, and he died just a few days after he was born.
Some plaintiffs had their water break incredibly early. Others developed fatal fetal anomalies, and one developed Mirror syndrome, where both she and her fetus retained too much fluid and were both at risk of death. They were all denied abortions.
“What happened to these women is indefensible and is happening to countless pregnant people across the state,” Molly Duane, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive rights, said in a statement. “The Texas government must answer for their laws that have nearly killed these women and that put more lives at risk every day.”