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20 women are now suing Texas, saying state abortion laws endangered them

Amanda Zurawski is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights against Texas. Here, she arrives at the Austin courthouse where a hearing was held on July 20.
SUZANNE CORDEIRO
/
AFP via Getty Images
Amanda Zurawski is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights against Texas. Here, she arrives at the Austin courthouse where a hearing was held on July 20.

Cristina Nuñez's doctors had always advised her not to get pregnant. She has diabetes, end-stage renal disease and other health conditions, and when she unexpectedly did become pregnant, it made her extremely sick. Now she is suing her home state of Texas, arguing that the abortion laws in the state delayed her care and endangered her life.

Nuñez and six other women joined an ongoing lawsuit over Texas's abortion laws. The plaintiffs allege the exception for when a patient's life is in danger is too narrow and vague, and endangered them during complicated pregnancies.

The case was originally filed in March with five patient plaintiffs, but more and more patients have joined the suit. The total number of patients suing Texas in this case is now 20 (two OB-GYN doctors are also part of the lawsuit). After a dramatic hearing in July, a district court judge agreed with the plaintiffs that the law needed to change, but the state immediately appealed her ruling directly to the Texas Supreme Court. That move allows Texas' three overlapping abortion bans to stand.

In the July hearing, lawyers for the Texas Attorney General's office argued that women had not been harmed by the state's laws and suggested that their doctors were responsible for any harms they claimed.

For Cristina Nuñez, after she learned she was pregnant in May 2023, her health quickly worsened, according to an amended complaint filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the organization bringing the case. Nuñez had to increase the amount of time she spent in dialysis, and suffered from painful blood clots. She told an OB-GYN that she wanted an abortion, but was told that was not possible in Texas. She called a clinic that provides abortion in New Mexico, but was told she could not have a medication abortion because of her other health conditions.

Her health continued to deteriorate as the weeks went on and her pregnancy progressed. In June, when one of her arms turned black from blood clots, she went to a Texas emergency room. She was diagnosed with a deep vein thrombosis, eclampsia and an embolism, but the hospital would not provide an abortion. She worried she would die, the complaint says.

She finally received an abortion 11 days after going to the E.R., only after finding a pro-bono attorney that contacted the hospital on her behalf.

Also joining the lawsuit is Kristen Anaya, whose water broke too early. She developed sepsis, shaking and vomiting uncontrollably, while waiting for an abortion in a Texas hospital. The other new plaintiffs are Kaitlyn Kash, D. Aylen, Kimberly Manzano, Dr. Danielle Mathisen, and Amy Coronado, all of whom received serious and likely fatal fetal diagnoses and traveled out of state for abortions.

The Texas Supreme Court is set to consider the Center's request for a temporary injunction that would allow abortions in a wider range of medical situations. That hearing is scheduled for Nov. 28.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Selena Simmons-Duffin reports on health policy for NPR.