Texas Lawsuit Brings Life of the Mother Concerns into the Spotlight
It’s difficult to overemphasize the extent to which the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision shook up the legal landscape of abortion in the states. In a matter of months, the United States went from federal abortion gridlock under Roe v. Wade to a scattered assortment of laws protecting life in the womb at different markers in gestation. Currently, there are only 20 states that don’t protect life at any point in pregnancy — and, despite the differences in laws between the other 30, some aspects remain universal.
Significantly, not a single pro-life law in the United States prevents physicians from acting to save a pregnant mother’s life in a medical emergency. This week, however, represented by the radically pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights, five women filed a lawsuit against Texas because of its state-level law protecting the unborn. The women involved in the lawsuit allege that their physicians denied them emergency medical care because they were concerned about violating laws protecting the unborn from abortion.
Planned Parenthood Action (PPA) stated via Twitter, “Thank you, Amanda, Lauren, Anna, Lauren, & Ashley, for sharing your stories & speaking out for everyone whose health has been endangered by cruel abortion bans. Abortion is health care — and all abortion bans, even ones with ‘exceptions,’ are putting our lives at risk every day.” The “exceptions” that PPA is referring to are the standard “life of the mother” exceptions often incorporated into pro-life statutes as an attempt to reaffirm that these laws are meant to protect all human life — not endanger women.
Texas is one of many states with a pro-life law that carves out abortion exceptions in cases of threat to the life or health of a pregnant woman. However, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights, physicians in states with these exceptions are failing to intervene during medical emergencies. The New York Times wrote about one of the plaintiffs, stating, “A specialist urged her to go out of state, but to tell no one where she was going or why, lest someone report her to a hotline that anti-abortion groups set up.”
In order to understand the complexities of this case, we must first address a crucial question: Are there times when abortion is necessary to save a mother’s life — and are abortion exceptions for the “life of the mother” actually needed? According to pro-life medical experts, the answer is no.
Dr. Christina Francis, CEO of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told The Washington Stand, “Physicians have a solemn duty to evaluate the patients in front of them and provide medical treatment that respects the dignity of both of them. Thankfully, most times this involves saving both mother and child, but in the rare circumstances where that is not possible, we save the life of the one that we can (without directly ending the life of the other).” She added, “Intervening in these situations to separate mother and child is not at all the same thing as intentionally ending the life of our preborn patients through elective abortion. Intentional feticide is prohibited by state abortion restrictions such as the one in Texas — not intervening to help women in life-threatening situations.”
So, what should pregnant women make of the claims that physicians have no choice but to deny them care during medical emergencies? Dr. Francis explained, “Nowhere in the Texas law, or any other state law, does it say that a physician must withhold indicated medical treatment until a woman needs ICU level care. Reports of this being the case are the fault of a misunderstanding of the law, not the law itself.” She also affirmed that “Women should rest assured that there are no state laws currently on the books that prevent life-saving treatment for pregnant mothers, and if their physician is withholding treatment in these situations, they should ask for a second opinion.”
Many pro-life Americans are growing increasingly frustrated watching the abortion industry weaponize mothers who have clearly endured medical trauma to serve their purposes. The mothers involved in the Texas lawsuit deserve our compassion and empathy — not our condemnation.
“As the largest professional medical organization representing pro-life physicians, our hearts go out to any family that has gone through the heartbreak of the loss of a child,” Dr. Francis emphasized. “This heartbreak is made even greater when women face pregnancy complications that can threaten their own life as well. We have cared for many patients in these situations, and they deserve excellent health care.”
For more information, read 3 Reasons Why Abortion Is Never Medically Necessary.
Joy Stockbauer is a correspondent for The Washington Stand.