A group of women who are suing Texas were set to head to court in Austin Wednesday, seeking clarity on when exceptions to the state’s abortion ban are allowed.
Five women initially sued back in March, but more women have since joined the suit, altogether adding up to more than a dozen who are asserting that the Texas law, as written, is not clearly defined and put their lives or their pregnancies at risk.
Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the women, said the Texas case is believed to be the first brought by women who were denied abortions since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in June, 2022.
Texas is one of at least eight states that have passed so-called “heartbeat bills,” banning abortion after six weeks, including Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri and North Dakota.
It’s also one of 16 states that do not allow abortions when a fatal fetal anomaly is detected.
Texas doctors who perform abortions risk life in prison and fines of up to $100,000, leaving many unwilling to even discuss terminating a pregnancy with their patients—despite a limited health exception to the law defined as “a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy that…poses a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless the abortion is performed or induced.”
One of the women suing had to carry a fetus that was missing much of her skull for months, knowing that the baby would die soon after she was born. Others have had to travel out of state to receive medical care for pregnancy-related complications after doctors recommended an abortion.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office, which is defending the state’s ban, has argued that the women lack standing to sue and pushed back on accounts by doctors who said they were confused over the law’s wording.