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Women and doctors sue Texas over ‘extreme abortion bans,’ say lives were endangered

Several women have sued the state of Texas over its near-total ban on abortions, alleging the confusion it caused around medical conditions put their fertility and even their lives in danger.

The case was filed to “clarify the scope of the state’s ‘medical emergency’ exception under its extreme abortion bans,” said the Center for Reproductive Rights, which filed the suit Monday in Austin on behalf of five patients and two doctors.

Doctors in Texas can be charged with criminal felony for performing abortions unless a patient’s life is in danger.

However the laws, according to the lawsuit, don’t adequately spell out what those conditions might be. As a result, women who need such an intervention are suffering severe health consequences because doctors are afraid to treat them, said the plaintiffs in the suit.

Each of the five women who came forward were denied abortion care in the face of dangerous pregnancy complications. One woman did not receive that care until she became septic and nearly lost her life. Four others had to leave the state to obtain treatment.

For their part, the two obstetrician-gynecologists in the suit said they were unable to exercise their ethical obligation to provide medical care. One came forward to speak on behalf of those who were afraid of retaliation, and the second has semi-retired because of the limits put on her practice.

Penalties for doctors violating the state’s abortion laws include $100,000 in fines, a potential 99 years behind bars, and the loss of their medical license, the Center for Reproductive Rights said.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Tuesday that he too is interested in people’s welfare, but that fetuses should be included in that.

A spokesman for his office said Paxton is “committed to doing everything in his power to protect mothers, families and unborn children, and he will continue to defend and enforce the laws duly enacted by the Texas Legislature.”

With News Wire Services

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