The first lawsuit challenging the Texas abortion ban was filed in Austin today.
The lawsuit, Zurawski v. State of Texas, was filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of five women who were denied abortions in Texas, as well as two medical providers. In addition to suing the state of Texas, the plaintiffs are also challenging indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton and the state medical board.
Even before Roe v. Wade was reversed last year, Texas enacted a sweeping law known as Senate Bill 8, which was essentially a six-week abortion ban that also allowed anybody to sue an individual they believed aided or abetted an abortion. After Roe was toppled, a trigger law banning abortion completely also went into effect in Texas.
This afternoon outside the state Capitol, the five women bringing forth the lawsuit spoke at a press conference. They each detailed harrowing accounts of what they went through after being denied an abortion.
Anna Zargarian is one of the plaintiffs. Her water broke prematurely at nineteen weeks, also known as a preterm premature rupture of membranes. Doctors would normally safely terminate a pregnancy like this, but because Zargarian was in Texas she had no choice but to risk her health to fly to Colorado with her husband.
In Austin, Zargarian chastised the laws that have created these horrific situations. “Where else in medicine do we do nothing and just wait and see how sick a patient becomes before acting?” she said.
According to the CEO of the Center of Reproductive Rights, Nancy Northup, this lawsuit represents the first challenge to any state’s abortion ban in the country. “It is the first lawsuit in which individual women have sued a state for the harm that they endured because abortion care has been criminalized in the wake of Roe’s reversal,” she said in a statement.
The plaintiffs are not seeking to reverse the state’s abortion ban, but they are asking for a “declaratory judgment” to make clear that there should be medical exceptions to protect the health of pregnant individuals facing emergencies in the state of Texas.
The White House Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre also released a statement about the “reality” of Governor Greg Abbott’s abortion ban. “As the Administration has long made clear: stripping women of their right to make their own healthcare decisions endangers women’s health, with potentially life-threatening consequences.” She also said the White House continues to call on Congress to enact legislation that would codify Roe.
A longtime writer and journalist, Jessica was thrilled to join the Texas Signal where she could utilize her unique perspective on politics and culture. As the Features and Opinion Editor, she is responsible for coordinating editorials and segments from diverse authors. She is also the host of the podcast the Tex Mix, as well as the co-host for the weekly SignalCast. Jessica attended Harvard College, is a onetime fitness blogger, and has now transitioned to recreational runner (for which her joints are thankful).