Texas Supreme Court rejects challenge to abortion ban

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Legend, Amanda Zurawski, the named plaintiff, said the decision was a ‘gut punch’

The Texas Supreme Court has unanimously rejected a challenge by 20 women who claimed they were denied a medically necessary abortion under the state’s near-total abortion ban.

The defendants, joined by two doctors, had sued Texas for clarification on the ban’s only exception – medical emergencies – arguing that it was too vague, leaving patients in danger and doctors in fear of harm. be punished.

But the nine justices on the state’s highest court disagreed.

“Texas law permits life-saving abortion,” Justice Jane Bland wrote on behalf of the all-Republican court.

  • Author, Holly Honderich
  • Role, BBC News, Washington

“The law permits a physician to intervene to remedy a woman’s life-threatening physical condition before death or serious physical impairment is imminent,” Judge Bland said, provided that the doctor uses “reasonable medical judgment”.

Abortions are not permitted for fetuses diagnosed with a “life-limiting” condition, the court wrote, unless the mother’s life is also threatened.

Doctors found guilty of violating the law face up to 99 years in prison, a $100,000 fine and the loss of their medical license.

Amanda Zurawski, the named plaintiff in the lawsuit, said the decision was “like a gut punch.”

“Unfortunately, the Texas Supreme Court showed us today that it does not want to help pregnant Texans access health care and it does not want to help doctors practice medicine,” he said. she said Friday during a press call.

Ms Zurawski was 18 weeks into a much-desired pregnancy when she suffered pre-labour premature rupture of membranes (PPROM). Doctors told her that her unborn daughter, named Willow, would not survive, but refused to perform an abortion until there was a fetal heartbeat.

Ms Zurawski developed sepsis and spent days in the intensive care unit.

The other 19 defendants shared similar stories of being denied abortions in Texas despite having unsafe or unviable pregnancies. Some traveled out of state to get the procedure while others said they waited until they were “sick enough” for doctors to perform an abortion.

Speaking on Friday, Samantha Casiano, whose fetus did not develop a skull, said she had to watch her baby suffer before she died hours after birth.

“I gave birth to my daughter and I watched my daughter suffocate,” she said. “It’s just not something anyone should see.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a staunch opponent of abortion, said in a statement that he would continue to defend Texas laws and do “everything in my power to protect mothers and babies “.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of the national anti-abortion group Susan B Anthony Pro-Life America also welcomed the decision, saying that under “all pro-life laws, doctors can provide appropriate care to pregnant women who encounter a emergency”.

But Ms Dannenfelser said “what happened to Amanda Zurawski was completely wrong. No woman should suffer and risk losing her life when the law is clear.”

The plaintiffs were represented by the pro-choice advocacy group the Center for Reproductive Rights.

The group said it was the first time pregnant women themselves had taken action against anti-abortion laws since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the nation’s right to abortion in June 2022. Lawsuits have been filed by women in other strictly prohibited states, including Idaho and Tennessee. , followed.

“The opinion lays bare the cruel consequences of the Supreme Court’s overturning Roe v. Wade,” said Center President Nancy Northup.

In December, the Texas Supreme Court ruled against another woman, Kate Cox, who was also seeking an abortion for her high-risk pregnancy. Ms. Cox eventually obtained an abortion in another state.

The case, which could have far-reaching consequences for emergency rooms across the country, centers on a federal law requiring hospitals to provide stabilizing treatment to any patient arriving with an “emergency medical problem.”

A decision is expected next month.

Video caption, Texas abortion law: “I waited for my daughter to die so I wouldn’t die”

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