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Woman Vomits on the Stand Recalling Abortion Ban Trauma

15 plaintiffs seek order blocking Texas abortion law from applying to high-risk pregnancies
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2023 8:56 AM CDT
In Suit Over Abortion Ban: 'I Don't Feel Safe to Have Children in Texas'
Amanda Zurawski, left, and Samantha Casiano, center, stand with their attorney Molly Duane outside the Travis County Courthouse, Wednesday, in Austin, Texas.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

A woman testifying about the damage caused by Texas' ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy vomited on the stand Wednesday while describing her nonviable pregnancy, which ended with her giving birth to a baby who lived for just four hours. Samantha Casiano, part of a group of 13 women and two OB-GYNs who are suing the state of Texas, said she was halfway through her pregnancy when she learned she was carrying a nonviable fetus whose skull and brain had not fully formed. She said she considered seeking an out-of-state abortion but feared she would be punished, per CBS News. "I felt like I was imprisoned in my own body," she testified in a Travis County courtroom, per NBC News.

After giving birth months later, Casiano said she apologized over and over to the dying infant in her arms. "There was no mercy there for her, and I couldn't do anything," she said through sobs, per the Texas Tribune. She vomited after reading from a doctor's note diagnosing her pregnancy as high risk. After a recess, she acknowledged having a physical reaction to the emotional trauma she experienced. Another woman, Ashley Brandt, said she traveled to Colorado for an abortion after learning one of the twins she was carrying was nonviable. She said if she hadn't aborted the fetus, the health of the other twin would've suffered. In Texas, "my daughter's health didn't really matter," she said through tears, per CBS. "I don't feel safe to have children in Texas anymore."

A third woman, Amanda Zurawski, said she was denied an abortion when her water broke early during her pregnancy and nearly died from sepsis as a result. The woman are asking District Judge Jessica Mangrum to temporarily block the abortion ban from applying to high-risk pregnancies and ultimately clarify when an abortion can be performed. Though the law allows for intervention to save the life of a pregnant woman, the plaintiffs say doctors fear acting given the law's vagueness and penalties for violators, including up to 99 years in prison. The state has asked the judge to dismiss the suit. "Plaintiffs sustained their alleged injuries as a direct result of their own medical providers failing them," Assistant Attorney General Amy Pletscher told the judge, per the Tribune. Testimony continues Thursday. (More Texas stories.)

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