March 14, 2023

Texas Heartbeat Act Faces Lawsuit from Women who were Denied Care due to Pregnancy

The Texas Heartbeat Act, which remained incredibly sturdy during a series of legal challenges that took place before the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, now faces a lawsuit from a group of women who claim they were denied medically-necessary abortions.

The pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights is representing the group of women in this lawsuit. The lead plaintiff is Amanda Zurawski, who was denied medical care for an incompetent cervix at 18 weeks gestation. Texas doctors refused to provide treatment, citing the Heartbeat Act.

Pro-life laws in Texas already include an exception for when the life of the mother is in danger, but pro-life doctors argue that abortion is not required to treat any condition. Further, it is slower and less effective than pre-term delivery or a C-section.

Dr. Christina Francis, CEO-Elect of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told Live Action that doctors had several options to treat Zurawski that did not include abortion. “Many times, if infection is ruled out, women can be treated with a stitch, called a cerclage, which is placed in her cervix to hold the unborn baby in until he or she can survive outside the mother,” she said. “An attentive physician should be able to detect signs of infection early and, if present, provide the appropriate treatment – which would be induction of labor. This treatment is not prevented by any abortion restriction in the country.”

Texas Right to Life wrote in a press release that the plaintiffs experienced medical neglect, and the standard of care they experienced was not required by Texas law.

Plaintiffs are asking for Texas law to be clarified by creating a "binding interpretation" of medical exceptions to allow doctors to exercise "good faith judgment" to commit abortions. Texas Right to Life wrote that such exceptions would create loopholes and endanger the lives of the unborn.