Plaintiff 'Outraged' After Texas Supreme Court Abortion Ruling

State Supreme Court rejects challenge to law that would've forced clarification on medical exemptions
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 1, 2024 7:30 AM CDT
Texas Supreme Court Says No on Challenge to Abortion Law
Amanda Zurawski, a plaintiff in Zurawski vs. Texas, speaks at a Texas Medical Board meeting to discuss guidance around physicians for medical exceptions to the state's abortion ban laws at the George HW Bush State Office Building in Austin, Texas, on Friday.   (Jay Janner /Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday rejected a challenge to one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the US. The unanimous ruling from the court, whose nine justices are all elected Republicans, is the latest decision to uphold Texas' abortion ban, which critics say doesn't offer enough clarity over when exceptions are allowed. The court said that the exceptions, as written, are broad enough, and that doctors would be misinterpreting the law if they declined to perform an abortion when the mother's life is in danger, per the AP. "Texas law permits a life-saving abortion," the court wrote in the order signed by Republican Justice Jane Bland. Last summer, state District Judge Jessica Mangrum had granted a temporary injunction preventing Texas from enforcing the ban against doctors who in their "good faith judgment" ended a pregnancy that they determined was unsafe due to complications.

But that was immediately blocked by an appeal from the Texas attorney general's office to the state's Supreme Court. More than 20 women in Texas joined the lawsuit, including Amanda Zurawski of Austin, who'd been told that she had a condition that meant her baby wouldn't survive. Zurawski, the case's lead plaintiff, said she was forced to wait until she was diagnosed with a life-threatening case of sepsis before being provided an abortion. Zurawski spent three days in the ICU and was left with a permanently closed fallopian tube from an infection, affecting her ability to have more children. "I am outraged on behalf of my fellow plaintiffs who the court deemed not sick enough," Zurawski said in a statement after the ruling. "We all deserve bodily autonomy. Every day, people in Texas are being told that they have no options. It's sickening and wrong."

The lawsuit filed in March 2023 didn't seek to repeal Texas' abortion ban, but instead aimed to force more clarity on when exceptions are allowed. The complaint argued that exemptions under the law, which allow an abortion to save a mother's life or prevent the impairment of a major bodily function, are written too vaguely and create confusion among doctors, who were turning away some pregnant women experiencing health complications because they feared repercussions. The court ruled that state law doesn't require that a woman's death or serious impairment be "imminent" when being evaluated by a doctor for an abortion. Under Texas law, doctors who perform abortions risk life in prison, fines of up to $100,000, and revocation of their state medical licenses. Opponents say that has left some women with providers unwilling to even discuss terminating a pregnancy. More here.

(More abortion stories.)

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