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More than 12 women are suing to block abortion law in Texas

A woman had to carry her baby for months, missing most of its skull, knowing she would bury her daughter soon after she was born. Another began to reflect on the life-threatening symptoms she had seen in her baby while still in the womb. An OB-GYN finds herself secretly traveling out of state to end her desired pregnancy, haunted by a diagnosis of a fatal fetal anomaly.

All the women were told they could not terminate their pregnancies in Texas, a state that has enacted some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country.

Now, they’re asking a Texas court to grant an emergency stay on some abortion restrictions, joining a lawsuit launched earlier this year by five other women who were denied abortions in the state regardless of whether they were pregnant. was done, they say their health or life is in danger.

In total, more than a dozen Texas women have joined the Center for Reproductive Rights’ lawsuit against the state law, which prohibits abortions unless the mother’s life is at risk — an exception not clearly defined. Has been done Texas doctors who perform abortions risk life in prison and fines of up to $100,000, leaving many women with providers who are unwilling to even discuss terminating a pregnancy.

“Our hope is that this will allow physicians at least a little more comfort when it comes to patients with obstetric emergencies who truly need an abortion, where it is at risk to their health, fertility, or life going forward.” is going to affect,” Molly Duan, lead attorney on the case, told The Associated Press. “Almost all of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit tell similar stories about their doctors, If it wasn’t for this law, I would have you aborted right now.”

The Texas attorney general’s office, which is defending the state in the lawsuit, did not immediately return an email Monday seeking comment.

The lawsuit serves as a nationwide model for abortion rights advocates seeking to challenge strict new abortion laws that were struck down by the Supreme Court last year in Roe v. Wade has since rolled. Sixteen states, including Texas, do not allow abortions when a fatal fetal anomaly is detected, while six do not allow exceptions for the health of the mother, according to an analysis by KFF, a health research organization.

Duane said the Center for Reproductive Rights is considering filing similar lawsuits in other states, noting that they’ve heard from women across the country. About 25 Texas women have contacted the organization about their own experiences since the initial lawsuit was filed in March.

The women involved in the trial described being excited to find out they were pregnant before the experience was horrifying.

Jessica Bernardo and her husband spent years trying to conceive, even consulting fertility doctors, before they finally fell pregnant with a daughter, Emma, ​​last July.

Almost immediately, Bernardo was coughing so hard and often that she vomited occasionally. Fourteen weeks into her pregnancy, test results showed her baby was likely to have Down syndrome, so she consulted a specialist, who gave her devastating news: Emma’s heart was underdeveloped and she had a rare, fatal disorder. Which was called fetal anasarca, which causes fluid to build up. Body.

“They handed me a tissue box,” recalls Bernardo, who lives in Frisco, Texas. “I thought maybe the worst thing he was going to tell us was that he was going to have Down syndrome. Instead, he said, ‘I can tell you right now…she won’t come.'”

The doctor warned her to watch out for high blood pressure and cough, signs of mirror syndrome, another rare condition where a mother “mirrors” the same problems the fetus is experiencing.

With Bernardo’s blood pressure numbers rising, her OB-GYN conferred with the hospital’s ethics board to see if she could terminate the pregnancy, but was advised that Bernardo was not sick enough. Bernardo spent $7,000 to fly to Seattle for an abortion a week later.

Bernardo said, even if Emma makes it through the pregnancy, doctors need to immediately remove the excess fluid from her body to survive with only a few hours or days.

“Reading about everything seemed like absolute torture for a newborn who would not survive,” she said. “If I hadn’t had the abortion, my life would have been at stake.”

Other women facing similar circumstances do not have the financial resources to travel outside the state.

Halfway through her pregnancy, Samantha Cassiano, 29, who lives in East Texas, learned last year that her daughter Halo had a rare diagnosis of anencephaly, where the skull and most of the brain are missing. Her doctor told her that Texas law required her to continue the pregnancy, even though her baby would not survive.

With five children, including a granddaughter, at home, she quickly realized she could not afford to travel out of state for an abortion. The next few months of her pregnancy were spent trying to raise money for her daughter’s impending funeral, soliciting donations through online websites and starting fundraisers selling Mexican soup. Helo was born in April, lived only four hours.

Cassiano said, “I was filled with heartbreak and sadness at the same time.”

The women in the lawsuit say they cannot openly discuss abortion or labor induction with their doctors, instead asking their doctors discreetly whether they should travel out of state.

Dr. Austin Dennard, an OB-GYN in Dallas, never talked to her doctors about her miscarriage after discovering the baby’s ecchymosis on an ultrasound last year during her third pregnancy. She worried that her out-of-state trip to terminate the pregnancy might jeopardize her medical license or invite harassment against her and her husband, also an OB-GYN. Denard was inspired to go public with her case when one of her patients joined the original lawsuit she filed after traveling to Colorado in March to be diagnosed with a life-threatening genetic disorder.

Denard said, “I felt a great deal of dread afterward.” “It’s an extra way to feel silenced. You feel like you have to do it in secret and not tell anyone about it.

Denard is expecting another child later this year.

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