A group of five women and two physicians have filed a lawsuit against the US state of Texas for upholding a ban on termination of pregnancy after denying them access to abortion. The lawsuit argues that the law is confusingly worded, leaving doctors at risk of being penalized if the state does not perceive the particular situation as a medical emergency. The state of Texas has one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the country, forcing the plaintiff women to travel to other states to access abortions after the doctors treating them recommended they terminate the pregnancy because of their delicate health condition or that of the babies they were carrying.
The plaintiffs are demanding clarification of the law and that they be allowed to access necessary medical care without having to wait until they are on the brink of death. The executive director of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which provides legal representation to women, commented that “no one should have to wait until they are on the brink of death to receive medical care.” On the other hand, the president of the anti-abortion group Texas Right to Life said that two of the five cases in the lawsuit are considered a medical emergency under Texas law, but clarified that the other three cases are linked to fetal disabilities and that it is important to clarify what the law details.
The US Supreme Court overturned the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade case in June 2022, which recognized the constitutional protection of the right to terminate a pregnancy. Since then, several states, such as Indiana and Louisiana, have adopted laws banning abortions. In Texas, the law prohibits termination of pregnancy after six weeks of gestation and allows citizens to file lawsuits against those who help someone obtain an abortion after that time. The law has been sharply criticized by reproductive rights organizations, which argue that it severely limits access to medical care and endangers women’s health.