5 women with high-risk pregnancies file lawsuit in Texas over state abortion ban

Texas was sued by a group of women with high-risk pregnancies who claim the state’s sweeping abortion ban has denied them potentially life-saving medical care.

After the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, Texas prohibited abortions except in cases where a woman’s life is in danger or there is a risk of “substantial impairment of a major bodily function.” But the lawsuit, filed Monday night, claims doctors often refuse to perform abortions under any circumstances because of being second guessed and subject to career-destroying penalties.

The lawsuit states, “The abortion restrictions are hindering or delaying essential obstetric care.” “And, contrary to their stated purpose of prolonging life, the restrictions are exposing pregnant people to the risks of death, injury and disease.”

The five women behind the lawsuit are Texas residents who say they were thrilled to be pregnant but later learned their fetuses would not survive outside the womb. They describe being forced to travel out-of-state for abortions despite the risk to their own health from being away from doctors’ offices in the state and delays in care.

One woman said she became septic after being denied care, and one of her fallopian tubes was permanently blocked as a result. Two were pregnant with twins, one of which was non-viable, and had to travel out of state to get an abortion that would save the lives of their healthy fetuses. All described frustrating visits to doctors’ offices in Texas where medical staff would not talk directly about their options or be required to answer questions about the possibility of abortion.

Read here: Texas clinics halt abortions after state high court ruling

Under Texas law, performing an illegal abortion is a first degree felony. Doctors also face fines of at least $100,000 and their medical licenses can be revoked. They may also be subject to civil lawsuits under a state law called Senate Bill 8, which allows anyone to sue anyone for aiding and abetting an illegal abortion. Successful plaintiffs can claim damages of $10,000 or more.

The lawsuit, filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, seeks to clarify the scope of those laws and asks a state judge in Texas to confirm that there are exceptions to the ban. It names Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the Texas Medical Board and its executive director Stephen Carlton.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office and the Texas Medical Board did not immediately return requests seeking comment on the suit.

The case is Jurowski v. Texas, 23-000968, Texas District Court, Travis County.

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