The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Texas Judge Rules in Favor of Women Denied Abortions

Ruling blocks ban as it applies to people with severe pregnancy complications and fatal fetal diagnoses, though abortion remains banned in all other circumstances.

Today, a Texas District Judge issued an injunctionblocking Texas’ abortion bans as they apply to dangerous pregnancy complications, including fatal fetal diagnoses. After much confusion around what conditions qualify as “medical emergencies” under Texas’ abortion bans, today’s ruling gives clarity to doctors as to when they can provide abortions and allows them to use their own medical judgment. The Judge recognized that the women in the case should have been given abortions, and also dismissed the state’s request to throw out the case. Furthermore, today’s ruling found S.B. 8—a citizen-enforced abortion ban—unconstitutional.

In her ruling, Judge Jessica Mangrum wrote that doctors cannot be prosecuted for using their own “good faith judgement,” and that “The Court finds that physical medical conditions include, at a minimum: a physical medical condition or complication of pregnancy that poses a risk of infection, or otherwise makes continuing a pregnancy unsafe for the pregnant person; a physical medical condition that is exacerbated by pregnancy, cannot be effectively treated during pregnancy, or requires recurrent invasive intervention; and/or a fetal condition where the fetus is unlikely to survive the pregnancy and sustain life after birth.”

In Texas state court, a ruling is automatically stayed as soon as it is appealed, meaning today’s injunction will be temporarily blocked if and when the state appeals. Today’s ruling comes following a hearing in the case last month, where five of the plaintiffs gave gripping testimony and were callously cross examined by the state’s attorneys, who asked to have the case thrown out.

“Today’s ruling should prevent other Texans from suffering the unthinkable trauma our plaintiffs endured,” said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “It would be unconscionable for the State of Texas to appeal this ruling. The court has been clear: doctors must be able to provide patients the standard of care in pregnancy complications. That standard of care in certain cases is abortion because it is essential, life-saving healthcare. This decision is a win for Texans with pregnancy complications, however Texas is still denying the right to abortion care for the vast majority of those who seek it.”

“For the first time in a long time, I cried for joy when I heard the news,” said lead plaintiff Amanda Zurawski. “This is exactly why we did this. This is why we put ourselves through the pain and the trauma over and over again to share our experiences and the harms caused by these awful laws. I have a sense of relief, a sense of hope, and a weight has been lifted. Now people don’t have to be pregnant and scared in Texas anymore. We’re back to relying on doctors and not politicians to help us make the best medical decisions for our bodies and our lives.”

“This makes me hopeful that we can continue to provide competent rational care,” said plaintiff Dr. Damla Karsan. “It’s exactly what we needed. The court has guaranteed that we can once again provide the best care without fear of criminal or professional retribution. We can once again rely on our knowledge and training especially in challenging situations where abortions are necessary.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights brought this case—Zurawski v. State of Texas—on behalf of two OB-GYNs and 13 Texans who suffered severe pregnancy complications, yet were denied abortions due to the state’s abortion bans. The overarching Texas abortion ban will remain in place however, meaning most Texans will still be unable to access abortion in the state.

The conflicting language in Texas’ abortion bans has resulted in pervasive fear and confusion among doctors as to when they can help patients with severe pregnancy complications. Texas doctors have been turning patients away because they face up to 99 years in prison, at least $100,000 in fines, and the loss of their medical license for violating the abortion bans. This means pregnant Texans are being forced to either wait until they are near death to receive care or flee the state if they are able. In Zurawski v. State of Texas, the Center for Reproductive Rightsasked the court to give doctors clarity on what circumstances qualify as exceptions and to allow doctors to use their own medical judgment without fear of prosecution.

Learn more about the plaintiffs here.

The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Morrison & Foerster LLP, and Kaplan Law Firm on behalf of patients Amanda Zurawski; Lauren Miller; Lauren Hall; Anna Zargarian; Ashley Brandt; Kylie Beaton; Jessica Bernardo; Samantha Casiano; Austin Dennard, D.O.; Taylor Edwards; Kiersten Hogan; Lauren Van Vleet; and Elizabeth Weller as well as healthcare providers Dr. Damla Karsan, M.D. and Dr. Judy Levison, M.D., M.P.H.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is a global human rights organization of lawyers and advocates who ensure reproductive rights are protected in law as fundamental human rights for the dignity, equality, health, and well-being of every person.

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