IssuesJudicialStatewide NewsFive Texas Women File Lawsuit Against State Pro-Life Laws

The lawsuit alleges the language in Texas pro-life law has created “uncertainty surrounding the meaning of the exception to Texas’s abortion bans.”
March 7, 2023
This week, five women filed a lawsuit against the State of Texas and Attorney General Ken Paxton, claiming that Texas’s pro-life laws have “caused and [threaten] to cause irreparable injury.”

The lawsuit, which was announced on social media by the Center for Reproductive Rights, claims the women aim to “hold the state of Texas accountable for the consequences of multiple harmful abortion bans on pregnant people facing obstetric complications.”

Amanda Zurawski, Lauren Miller, Lauren Hall, Anna Zargarian, Ashley Brandt, as well as Damla Karsan M.D. and Judy Levison M.D., accused the state’s pre-Roe v. Wade laws; Senate Bill (SB) 8, also known as the Texas Heartbeat Act, and House Bill (HB) 1280, also known as the “abortion trigger ban;” as causing “uncertainty surrounding the meaning of the exception to Texas’s abortion bans.”

The cases of Lauren Miller and Ashley Brandt address their abortion difficulties due to the ambiguous language surrounding pregnancies with twins. Both Lauren and Ashley claim to have suffered mental and physical distress when navigating their respective abortions in Texas and both decided to travel to Colorado for the procedure. Per the lawsuit, both women aborted one of their twins, with Lauren still pregnant with the healthy child and Ashley having already given birth.

Amanda Zurawski and Anna Zargarian allege in the lawsuit that both their lives and their babies’ lives were at risk due to unexpected medical issues, which caused confusion in the guidance from Texas doctors and led to them going out of state to receive abortions.

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The case of Lauren Hall alleges that after an ultrasound, her baby was diagnosed with anencephaly, a condition in which the skull and brain do not fully develop. She alleges that her maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) specialist told her “anencephaly is incompatible with life.” Hall decided that she would get an abortion, but when she asked her MFM for advice, the doctor explained how “she couldn’t help her and was even fearful to give her information about her options.” Lauren made the decision to fly to Seattle for the abortion.

Texas’ pre-Roe abortion laws, the Heartbeat Act, and trigger ban are all alleged in this lawsuit to have caused Texas physicians the inability to perform their duties to treat emergent medical conditions that put the mother’s life or health at risk, which the suit alleges is due to the language present in the existing pro-life laws.

The language present in Texas’s abortion laws does have statutes for physicians who “believe a medical emergency exists that prevents compliance” with abortion laws, such as when the life of the mother is at risk, and the physician has a “good faith and reasonable understanding of standard medical practice.”

Texas Right to Life, a pro-life advocacy group, said on social media that “the law is clear that doctors can intervene immediately without delay if the woman’s life is in jeopardy or if her condition may lead to loss of major bodily function.”

“Misinformation on the law has been coming from the media and silence from medical associations,” the statement reads.

“The problem is media misrepresentation,” said Dr. John Seago, president of Texas Right to Life, in a comment to The Texan.

Seago went on to explain that doctors are confused about what to do in these situations, not because of Texas’s definitional laws but because of how some medical journals will misrepresent the laws as women needing to be at “death’s door” to receive care. He added that Texas needs better education for physicians.

A United States district judge recently ruled that Texas’s pre-Roe abortion bans are barred from enforcement and the state can no longer prosecute organizations that facilitate out-of-state abortions. Paxton previously stated on social media that pre-Roe statutes are “100% good law” and enforceable.

There have been continued lawsuits against Texas’s pro-life laws and various bills to reinforce those measures, but the law’s intended effect is apparent as abortions in Texas have declined substantially since the enactment of the Heartbeat Act.


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Cameron Abrams

Cameron Abrams is a reporter for The Texan. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Tabor College and a Master’s Degree from University of the Pacific, Cameron is finishing his doctoral studies where his research focuses on the postmodern philosophical influences in education. In his free time, you will find him listening to a podcast while training for an endurance running event.