Five Texas women who were allegedly denied abortion care after facing dangerous pregnancy complications have sued the state of Texas over its abortion ban.
The groundbreaking joint lawsuit was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of the five women and two Texas obstetrician-gynecologists seeking to clarify the scope of the state’s “medical emergency” exception under its extreme abortion bans.
While the women’s conditions should have qualified under the state’s abortion ban exceptions, they were denied abortions in Texas and their conditions worsened, posing great risks to their fertility, health, and lives, the lawsuit says.
Texas prohibits abortions except for medical emergencies, with doctors facing jail term of up to 99 years, fines of at least $100,000, and loss of medical license.
According to the lawsuit, doctors are refusing the procedure even in extreme cases out of fear of prosecution.
Filed in Texas state court in Austin, the lawsuit seeks clarity regarding when doctors can provide abortions under the state’s exception for “medical emergencies” to protect the life and health of the pregnant person.
The case, Zurawski v. State of Texas, is the first lawsuit brought on behalf of women denied abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion and cleared the way for states to ban it entirely. Since the Court’s ruling in June 2022, 12 U.S. states have made abortion illegal and many others have restricted it.
These extreme state abortion bans are creating chaos and confusion for patients and the doctors and hospitals that treat them by criminalizing the provision of abortion, which is a standard, necessary and life-saving procedure crucial in treating many dangerous medical conditions that arise during pregnancy.
As the experiences of the women in this case show, abortion bans such as those in Texas are causing serious harm to people facing severe complications during their pregnancies, says the Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal advocacy organization.
Responding to the news, Vice President Kamala Harris said the lawsuit includes devastating, first-hand accounts of women’s lives almost lost after they were denied the health care they needed, because of extreme efforts by Republican officials to control women’s bodies.
She added that like the overwhelming majority of Americans, President Joe Biden and herself believe women – in consultation with their doctors – should be in charge of their reproductive health care, not politicians.
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