AUSTIN, Texas - A group of women that sued the state of Texas over its abortion law testified in an Austin courtroom on Wednesday.
Samantha Casiano was pregnant when she found out her daughter had been diagnosed with anencephaly, a serious birth defect where the baby is born without parts of the brain and skull.
She said she was forced to carry the baby to term. The baby died four hours after her birth.
Amanda Zurwaski developed sepsis after her water broke too early, and she was unable to get an abortion.
"Amanda nearly died, and Samantha watched her baby die, both at the hands of the state," said Molly Duane with the Center for Reproductive Rights, the lead attorney on the case.
Ashley Brandt traveled to Colorado for an abortion when she learned one of her twins was also diagnosed with anencephaly. The other twin survived.
"I would’ve had to watch a twin deteriorate," said Brandt. "I would have had to give birth to a child without a skull or brain."
Under SB 8, an abortion cannot be performed once a heartbeat is detected. Doctors who perform abortions risk life in prison and hefty fines.
There is an exception for a ‘medical emergency’, but the bill doesn’t elaborate on what qualifies as a medical emergency.
The lawsuit asks for clarification on that exception.
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"There is no statement of pro-life in this state when you send me home to wait for my baby to die inside of me and for me to wait for myself to get to a point where I have to gamble my uterus and gamble my life and gamble my future possibility of becoming pregnant," said Elizabeth Weller during a press conference after the court hearing. "It’s not pro-life, in a sense, it’s almost pro-torture."
One piece of legislation passed in this recent legislative session aims to provide more protection for doctors in similar situations.
HB 3058 protects healthcare providers that "exercised reasonable medical judgment" when providing an abortion in the case of an ectopic pregnancy or a complication known as preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM).
HB 3058 goes into effect on Sept. 1.
The court hearing will continue Thursday, July 20 at 9 a.m.