Texas Supreme Court considers request for clarity on exemptions to abortion ban

1 min read
Texas State Capitol
The Texas State Capitol building is pictured in Austin Sept. 3, 2021. The Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments Nov. 28, 2023, in a case challenging state’s abortion ban, seeking to clarify exceptions to the ban. (OSV News photo/CNS file, Bob Roller)

(OSV News) — The Texas Supreme Court Nov. 28 heard arguments in a challenge to the state’s abortion ban after a group of women alleged that the law forced them to continue pregnancies despite grave risks to their health.

In March, five women who said they were denied abortions under the Texas law despite experiencing pregnancy complications, filed a lawsuit challenging the law. Pro-life supporters of the law argued it already takes into account life-threatening situations. The case has since grown to include nearly two dozen plaintiffs.

The law, which restricts abortion after six weeks gestation, is among the strictest abortion laws in the country.

A case to clarify exemptions

Amanda Zurawski, the lead plaintiff in the case, said she developed blood poisoning before she underwent an abortion in Texas. Four other plaintiffs said they traveled out of state after doctors recommended an abortion they said they would not perform in Texas.

The lawsuit, however, does not actually seek to repeal the law but to clarify when exceptions are permitted.

While the plaintiffs argued that the law jeopardized their health, the state argued that the decisions by their doctors should be scrutinized, rather than the law.

Beth Klusmann, representing the attorney general’s office, said the women should have filed medical malpractice claims against their doctors.

“Some of the women appear to have fallen in the exception but their doctor still said no,” Klusmann said. “That’s not the fault of the law, that’s the decision of the doctor.”

Abortion ruling could take months

Texas’ highest court scrutinized both sides’ arguments, and their ruling could take several months.

In a Nov. 28 post on X, formerly known as Twitter, the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the plaintiffs in the case, wrote, “We want to thank our courageous plaintiffs, many of whom were present in Court today, for their ongoing bravery in speaking truth to power, voluntarily reliving the worst traumas of their lives in hopes of sparing others from experiencing the same. Thank you for your fight.”

“As the case moves forward, we are hopeful that the Court will uphold the trial court’s decision to put an end to the fear and confusion that doctors and patients are facing in Texas,” the group added.

The Catholic Church teaches that all human life is sacred and must be respected from conception to natural death. As such, the church opposes direct abortion as an act of violence that takes the life of the unborn child.

After the Dobbs decision, church officials in the U.S. have reiterated the church’s concern for both mother and child, as well as about social issues that push women toward having an abortion.

Kate Scanlon

Kate Scanlon is a national reporter for OSV News covering Washington.