Five Women Sue Texas Over the State’s Narrow Abortion Exception
Five women are suing Texas over the state’s strict abortion ban, hoping to clarify the law’s narrow exception for abortions in the case of a “medical emergency.” The women—all of whom were denied abortions despite life-threatening complications or significant fetal abnormalities—say the statute is vague, leaving hospitals and doctors with “widespread fear and confusion,” and thus is likely to deny women lifesaving care out of fear of prosecution.
“Abortion bans are preventing pregnant people from receiving the standard of care from their medical professionals in times of crisis,” the lawsuit states. “Pervasive fear and uncertainty throughout the medical community regarding the scope of the life and health exceptions have put patients’ lives and physicians’ liberty at grave risk.”
The suit, filed last Monday, seeks a declaratory judgment that doctors may perform abortions when a pregnant woman has a “medical condition that poses a risk of death or a risk to their health,” when a pregnancy complication “poses a risk of infection [or] bleeding, or otherwise makes continuing a pregnancy unsafe,” when a physical condition “is exacerbated by pregnancy, cannot be effectively treated during pregnancy, or requires recurrent invasive intervention,” or when “the fetus is unlikely to survive the pregnancy and sustain life after birth.”
Three of the plaintiffs were told they were carrying fetuses with severe birth defects. (Two had no skulls, and another had an underdeveloped brain and an incomplete abdominal wall, among other conditions.) For these women, continuing their pregnancies carried a substantial risk of hemorrhage or risked harming a secon
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