State Fights Life-Saving Care for Women – Rolling Stone

texas abortion amanda zurawski


It was Friday afternoon, and Molly Duane had just left for a vacation when she got the news. Women with life-threatening pregnancy complications would be able to get abortions in Texas, a judge had ruled. Doctors who provided that care would be shielded from prosecution by the state. And Texas’ Senate Bill 8 — the abortion bounty law, which allows private citizens to sue anyone they suspect of aiding or abetting an abortion — had been declared unconstitutional. 

Duane is a senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. She had spent the last year working on a case that challenged Texas’ abortion ban as too vague when it came to medically-necessary exceptions. 

The ruling was a victory, and a cause for elation — if only briefly.

Fifteen women ultimately joined the case: two OB-GYNs and 13 women who had been denied abortions despite severe pregnancy complications. Duane was elated by the decision. “It was such a clear signal for the district court, for [the judge] to say, ‘Yes, these women’s rights were violated. And no, this shouldn’t happen to people in a civilized country.” She immediately called her clients to deliver the news. 

Amanda Zurawski, the lead plaintiff in the case, cried when she heard — “Happy tears for once,” she told Duane. Zurawski had developed sepsis and nearly died months earlier, after she was denied abortion care when her water broke in her second trimester. 

Samantha Casiano told Duane she planned to visit her daughter’s grave to commemorate the moment. Casiano had learned that her baby had a fatal condition called anencephaly when she was twenty weeks pregnant; she spent the rest of her pregnancy knowing the child she would give birth to would not survive. 

Ashley Brandt couldn’t answer the phone when Duane called; she was busy putting her kids to bed. Brandt had been forced to seek medical care out of state after she learned one of her twins had acrania — a deadly condition that could threaten both their lives. “She emailed me later and told me what a great feeling it was” to learn of the ruling, Duane says.

Daune, for her part, was frantically trying to pay a bond that would have allowed the judge’s injunction to go into effect “so that patients would be able to get life-saving procedures over the weekend,” she says. 

In the end, “That didn’t happen.” 

Before the paperwork could even be processed, Texas’ attorney general’s office appealed the ruling, automatically staying the injunction, and maintaining the status quo that existed before the case was filed, and before the 15 women came forward to share their distinctly horrifying experiences.

Throughout the case, the state of Texas had steadfastly maintained that the law already includes a clear exception for life-threatening medical emergencies. “They acknowledge that Amanda [Zurawski] should have received an abortion before she became septic and nearly lost her life and now has use of only part of her reproductive system,” Duane says.

But the state’s position is that allowing doctors to make “good faith judgements” about what constitutes a medically-necessary abortion would run the risk of potentially allowing too many unnecessary abortions to take place. From the Texas Attorney General’s perspective, allowing women to access abortion in medical emergencies was simply “an activist Austin judge’s attempt to override Texas abortion laws.”

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The attorney general’s office filed its appeal directly with the Texas Supreme Court, bypassing the appeals court. Duane expects the Supreme Court will decide whether it will accept the appeal in the coming days or weeks. If it takes the case, there will be briefing and, ultimately, a final decision on the matter. “We are optimistic that what judges and the public will see is that abortion is healthcare and abortion is a human right,” Duane says.

But for now she is taking a moment to acknowledge, despite the lightning-quick reversal of the district court ruling, “a really meaningful moment in post-Roe America, where Texas joined courts across the country — from Indiana to Kentucky, to Oklahoma and North Dakota — who have uniformly ruled that abortion needs to be accessible, at the bare minimum, in cases where a patient’s life or health is at risk.”



Source link: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/texas-abortion-bounty-law-ruling-1234802301/

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