Banned from abortion, 12 women attack Texas

The image of her dead baby in her arms is unbearable. A mother testified to the horror she experienced before a judge in Austin (Texas) this week before collapsing and vomiting. Like 12 other patients, she is suing the State of Texas, demanding clarification of the “medical exceptions” to the laws now prohibiting abortion.

Samantha Casiano was denied the chance to abort despite her fetus being diagnosed with anencephaly, a malformation of the skull and brain implying that it would not survive. The child died four hours after delivery. “It was horrible because I wanted my daughter to rest in peace as soon as possible and we had to wait until she was born,” said 29-year-old Samantha Casiano. My daughter suffered from anencephaly, and was therefore bound to die quickly, before or after birth. »

Illegal abortion in Texas

In such a situation, a medical termination of pregnancy is often offered to families, the malformation irreparably condemning the child. But since the US Supreme Court canceled the constitutional right to abortion in June 2022 and gave states the freedom to legislate on this issue themselves, around fifteen of them have adopted ultra-restrictive laws or made abortion illegal on their soil. Texas is one of them.

In this conservative state in the south of the United States, abortion is now prohibited and doctors practicing it illegally incur heavy fines and up to 99 years in prison. According to the 13 plaintiffs, the exceptions for medical reasons are defined too vaguely, which frightens doctors and dissuades them from performing an abortion, even in this context.

“My baby died in my arms”

Samantha Casiano says she is a victim of these rules. His companion, Luis Villasana, 25, explains that they could have left illegally for another state but did not have the financial means to do so and would then have risked a prison sentence. “It’s against the law,” he said, adding, “we’re trying to do things right.” The couple, who are raising four children, were delighted to expand their family before a medical examination organized at 20 weeks of pregnancy, in December 2022, came to shower their hopes. “My baby died in my arms (…), I supported her for all those four hours”, testifies Luis Villasana.

During the last weeks of pregnancy, his partner had been placed on antidepressants by her doctor, had to endure the awkward praise and painful questions on her rounded belly, even though she knew full well that their child would not survive. “I hope the law will change so that other women don’t have to go through what I had to endure, and that other fathers don’t have to see their child die at their hands,” pleads Samantha Casiano.

“Inhumane Texas Laws”

Amanda Zurawski, the first to tell her story, told the court that she was also refused an abortion when her fetus was condemned. “When I needed an emergency abortion when I was pregnant with my daughter Willow, I was forced to go home and wait,” she told a press conference. Amanda Zurawski was only able to get this procedure three days later, after suffering from sepsis. “I almost died because of the inhuman laws of Texas that prohibit abortion,” she denounced.

Another plaintiff, Lauren Miller, pointed out that Samantha’s daughter had “suffocated”. “We shouldn’t torture babies and call it being pro-life,” as abortion opponents in the United States call themselves, she blasted. The defense argues that the medical exceptions could be used arbitrarily and serve as a pretext.

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