There’s another new lawsuit over some of the abortion restrictions implemented or allowed to remain in place around the United States in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court opting to overturn Roe v. Wade, in which the court had previously provided what were decades of legal protections for obtaining an abortion.
This time, as explained by The New York Times, the case is in Texas, where five women who have all faced complications during pregnancy have brought a case challenging the implementation of exceptions allowed under some of the state’s sweeping restrictions. In short, even a claimed exception for situations in which the pregnant individual’s life is threatened can contribute to threatening people’s safety. What about the possibly dangerous outcomes for pregnant individuals as the medical staff caring for them grapple with whether an abortion is allowed? Some of the penalties, whether life in prison or massive financial consequences, are steep. One of the women participating in this lawsuit, Amanda Zurawski, is experiencing lasting health impacts because of the hesitation forced on doctors in dealing with her case.
Zurawski wanted to have a child, but the pregnancy eventually faced complications, and it became clear that the fetus would not be viable. The amniotic sac even broke, but for days, doctors wouldn’t provide an abortion — until the prospective mother’s life was in danger. “Doctors confirmed that she had a blood infection and said her life was now in danger, so they could induce delivery without violating Texas’ abortion ban,” as reported in the Times, and now, after an operation months following the incident, one of Zurawski’s fallopian tubes remains affected by obstructive scar tissue.
It defies logic to suggest cases like that of the Zurawskis are an isolated occurrence. The Times explains that the new lawsuit “asks the court to confirm that Texas law allows physicians to offer abortion if, in their good-faith judgment, the procedure is necessary because” of circumstances including certain emergency health conditions affecting the pregnant individuals and conditions believed to be fatal affecting the fetus.
Ken Paxton, the state Attorney General in Texas, is among those named in the lawsuit. Other cases over abortion restrictions have focused on religious freedom and constitutional protections in the guiding documents for individual states, like a protection for privacy and against discriminatory conduct. On the religious freedom side, some of those helping implement the current array of limits on abortion have explicitly cited their personal religious beliefs, and in general, taking the beginning of a pregnancy as the beginning of life is obviously a generally conservative religious belief — but it’s not remotely the only religious approach to the issue.
It is possible for Congress to intervene and implement new protections for abortion active at the federal level, but current hurdles include GOP control of the House and the filibuster rules in the Senate generally demanding the agreement of 60 Senators before moving forward with almost anything.