Texas women suing the state over its ban on abortions

A group of Texas women is suing the state over its abortion ban.

The plaintiffs all had planned pregnancies that they were told would not be viable.

The women claim that despite suffering, what they called "dangerous pregnancy complications," doctors would not perform an abortion.

A hearing is underway in Austin.

FOX 4 was able to watch the court proceedings via a web feed provided by the Center for Reproductive Rights, but the judge did not allow us to use video or sound from the courtroom.

The plaintiffs are seeking a temporary injunction against the state, claiming the state's abortion ban is too vague, and therefore it put the pregnant women's lives at risk.

Inside a Travis County courtroom in Austin Wednesday, some of the 13 Texas women who are suing the state over its abortion ban testified they were unable to get abortions in the Lone Star State, despite suffering, what they called "dangerous pregnancy complications."

Here's some of what the plaintiff's said during a virtual news conference held in May 2022.

"The state's confusing new abortion law prevented doctors from treating me," Jessica Bernardo said.

"I was told that if I tried to discharge myself or seek care elsewhere that I could be arrested for trying to kill my child," Kiersten Hogan said.


More women sue Texas, asking court to put emergency block on state’s abortion law

One woman had to carry her baby, missing much of her skull, for months knowing she’d bury her daughter soon after she was born. Another started mirroring the life-threatening symptoms that her baby was displaying while in the womb.

In March 2022, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against the state, asking the court to clarify what situations fall under the "medical emergency" exception in Texas’ abortion ban. 

This is the first time women denied abortions have sued a state since Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

At that same news conference, lead attorney Molly Duane said the group is requesting a temporary injunction to address the issue of pregnancy complications.

"People with pregnancy complications cannot be forced to the brink of death or go out of the state to obtain necessary healthcare," she said.

David Coale is a constitutional law attorney who has been watching this case unfold.

"Now you've got people who've actually had problems. We have specific episodes in their life, health issues that they can trace to. Something involving the statute," he explained.

The lawsuit argues that the Texas Constitution protects pregnant people’s health and lives, which includes the right to obtain an abortion when facing life or health-threatening conditions, as well as a doctor's right to provide that care.

"The question the judge is going to have to answer, though, is how much can I take these individual stories and expand them to be a whole category of people?" Coale said. "This is a statewide law. It affects everybody in the state. And the judge is going to have a challenge on both sides of this case, trying to generalize from the different stories these witnesses are going to tell."

In opening statements, the defense said the plaintiffs blame directed at the state is misplaced and the plaintiffs sustained their alleged injuries as a direct result of their own medical providers failing them.

The defense said it intends to call a licensed OBGYN as an expert witness who will testify that the Texas laws in question are not confusing.