(AUSTIN, Texas) — Four women and an OB-GYN are expected to testify at hearings on Wednesday and Thursday as part of a lawsuit filed against the state of Texas over its abortion bans.

The women are some of the 15 individuals party to the lawsuit who have alleged that their lives were put at risk due to Texas’ abortion laws, claiming they were denied livesaving emergency care.

Lawyers representing the women are seeking a preliminary injunction on Texas’ abortion laws that would allow for lifesaving abortions. They are asking the court to provide a “remedy applied to patients whose life, health or fertility is at risk from an emergent medical condition,” Molly Duane, a lead attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, said during opening statements Wednesday.

“Tens of thousands of Texans have already been denied abortions. By any measure, Texas is in a health care crisis. The only issue in this case, however, is who should be getting abortions, under the medical exception to the abortion ban and two years later, still, no one knows,” Duane said.

“In the words of the state’s own expert, it is ‘the blind leading the blind on the ground,"” Duane said.

Prosecutors appearing on behalf of the state of Texas claimed the suit was due to dissatisfaction with medical care that the plaintiffs received and that they did not approve of Texas laws.

“Plaintiffs simply do not like Texas’ restrictions on abortion,” Cindy Fletcher, a representative for the state in the lawsuit, said.

Plaintiffs testifying at the hearings include Amanda Zurawski, who developed sepsis and nearly died after being refused an abortion when her water broke at 18 weeks; Ashley Brandt, who was forced to leave the state for abortion care after one of the twins she was carrying was diagnosed with a fatal condition; Samantha Casiano, who was forced to carry a nonviable pregnancy to term and give birth to a baby who died four hours later; Dr. Austin Dennard, an OB-GYN who had to travel out of state to receive abortion care for a nonviable pregnancy; and Dr. Damla Karsan, a Houston-based OB-GYN representing her patients.

‘I went from feeling physically OK to shaking uncontrollably’

In her testimony Wednesday, Zurawski said she went into sepsis after doctors said they could not induce labor because her fetus still had a heartbeat. Zurawski said she was told she had an incompetent cervix, premature dilation of her cervix, and would miscarry.

Her water broke later that evening but she did not miscarry until three days later, she said.

“I went from feeling physically OK to shaking uncontrollably. I was freezing cold even though it was 110 degrees out. My teeth were chattering violently. I couldn’t get a sentence out. My husband Josh asked me how I was feeling on a scale from 1 to 10. I didn’t know the difference between 1 and 10 — which one was higher,” Zurawski said.

“[I was] completely devastated. I’d just been given the worst news of my life, and I was terrified because I didn’t know what was going to happen. Again, this was my first pregnancy. I didn’t know what labor would be like, I didn’t know if I would go into labor. I didn’t know if I’d get sick. It was terrifying,” Zurawski said.

She said she suffered two bouts of sepsis and one of her fallopian tubes has since been permanently closed. Zurawski also needed several procedures to remove scar tissue and reconstruct her uterus after it collapsed.

“I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. It felt like the worst flu I had ever had in my life. I was so sore. Every muscle in my body was so sore that I couldn’t sit up without assistance. I couldn’t roll over. I actually lost control of my bowels and soiled the bed multiple times, which was absolutely humiliating,” Zurawski said.

Zurawski said she did not feel comfortable traveling to receive care elsewhere.

“We looked into it briefly but we quickly learned that I would either have to drive at least eight hours to get to a state where they could provide an abortion or we would have to fly and we didn’t feel like that would be safe, especially since the physician had advised that we not be more than 15 to 20 minutes from a hospital,” Zurawski said during her testimony.

Zurawski — who has done three egg retrievals since going into sepsis — said she still wants to have children and is having difficulty getting pregnant due to complications from developing sepsis.

Texas’ abortion bans

The suit alleged that Texas’ abortion bans have denied the plaintiffs and countless other pregnant people necessary and potentially lifesaving medical care because physicians in the state fear liability, according to the suit.

Texas has several abortion laws in place, prohibiting all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, except in medical emergencies, which the laws do not define. One of the bans — called SB 8 — prohibits abortions after cardiac activity is detected, which kept several plaintiffs from accessing care despite their pregnancies being nonviable, according to the suit.

Under Texas’ bans, it is a second-degree felony to perform or attempt an abortion, punishable by up to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The law also allows private citizens to sue anyone who “aids or abets” an abortion.

The suit is the first to be filed by women impacted by the abortion bans since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, ending federal protections for abortion rights.

The lawsuit is filed against the state of Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton — who was recently impeached — and the Texas Medical Board. A date has not yet been set for a hearing, according to Duane.

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