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In TX lawsuit, 5 women say denied life-saving abortions

STORY: Five women are suing the state of Texas over its severe abortion laws, the first apparent case of a legal challenge to Roe v Wade’s overturn by pregnant plaintiffs themselves.

The women said Monday (March 6) they were denied abortions despite grave risk to their lives.

One of them, Amanda Zurawski, said she was hospitalized in Texas with a premature rupture of membranes, meaning her fetus couldn’t be saved.

But doctors told her she could not have an abortion until fetal cardiac activity stopped or her condition became life-threatening.

"In a matter of minutes, I went from being physically healthy to developing sepsis, a condition in which bacteria in the blood develops into infection with the ability to kill in under an hour."

"I cannot adequately put into words the trauma and despair that comes with waiting to either lose your own life, your child's life or both. For days, I was locked in this bizarre and avoidable hell."

The other four said they had to travel out of state to get abortions, to avoid serious medical complications.

Anna Zargarian is one of them.

“Where else in medicine do we do nothing and just wait and see how sick a patient becomes before acting?”

The lawsuit is backed by the abortion rights group Center for Reproductive Rights and says the Texas law is unclear.

It’s asking a state court to clarify doctors cannot be prosecuted for providing abortions if they deem the procedure is necessary.

Texas is one of 13 states in the U.S. with a near-total ban on abortions, with laws passed after the Supreme Court knocked down Roe v. Wade last June.

Law professor Elizabeth Sepper says many doctors will still refuse to do an abortion even in cases of medical emergency.

“The Texas abortion bans are draconian, so physicians are afraid to perform abortions even when they seem to fall within the exceptions. There are very few exceptions -saving exception, and they're afraid, and they're afraid because they risk losing their medical license. It is hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, and they risk up to life imprisonment if they get it wrong.”

Sepper also said the new lawsuit is important because it could help physicians better understand which type of pregnancy complications are exempt under the Texas ban.

A spokesperson for the Texas Republican Attorney General said in an email reply to Reuters the AG will "continue to defend and enforce the laws duly enacted by the Texas legislature."