Texas woman almost dies because she couldn’t get an abortion

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CNN

Another woman has brought up the harrowing details of how the Supreme Court’s decision four months ago to overturn Roe v. Wade put her life in danger.

CNN has told the stories of several women — including one from Houston, one from central Texas, and one from Cleveland — and what they had to do to get medically necessary abortions.

Now a woman from Austin, Texas has come forward because she nearly died when she couldn’t get a timely abortion.

This is her story.

Amanda Eid and Josh Zurawski, both now 35, met in 1991 at Aldersgate Academy preschool in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and dated in high school.

“Josh always tells me he’s had a crush on me since we were 4 years old,” Amanda said.

Three years ago, they got married in Austin, Texas, where they both work in high-tech jobs.

They tried to start a family, but failed. Amanda underwent fertility treatments for a year and a half and eventually got pregnant.

“Very excited to share that Baby Zurawski is due at the end of January,” Amanda shared on Instagram in July. The post featured a photo of her and her husband wearing “Mama” and “Dad” hats, Amanda holding a strip of ultrasound images of their baby girl.

“The fact that we were pregnant at all was a miracle and we were beside ourselves with happiness,” she said.

But then, 18 weeks — just four months — into her pregnancy, Amanda’s water broke.

The amniotic fluid her baby depended on leaked out. She says her doctor told her the baby wouldn’t survive.

“We found out we were going to lose our baby,” Amanda said. “My cervix was fully dilated 22 weeks early and I would inevitably have a miscarriage.”

She and Josh begged the doctor to see if there was a way to save the baby.

“I kept asking, ‘Is there nothing we can do?’ And the answer was ‘no,’ Amanda said.

If a woman’s water breaks, she is at high risk for a life-threatening infection. While Amanda and Josh’s baby — they named her Willow — was sure to die, she still had a heartbeat, so doctors said they couldn’t terminate the pregnancy under Texas law.

“My doctor said, ‘Well, right now we just have to wait because we can’t induce labor, even though you’re 100% sure you’re going to lose your baby,'” Amanda said. “[The doctors] couldn’t do their own job because of the way the laws are written in Texas.

Texas law permits abortion if the mother has “a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or resulting from a pregnancy that puts the woman at risk of death or serious risk of substantial impairment of important bodily function .”

But Texas lawmakers haven’t explained exactly what that means, and a doctor who breaks the law could lose his medical license and potentially face a life sentence.

“They’re extremely vague,” said Katie Keith, director of the Georgetown University Law Center’s Health Policy and Law Initiative. “They don’t specify exactly in what situations an abortion can be performed.”

In September, CNN contacted 28 Texas legislators who sponsored the anti-abortion legislation and asked them for their response to CNN stories about the Houston woman and the Central Texas woman.

Only one lawmaker responded.

“Like any law, there are unintended consequences. We don’t want to see any unintended consequences; when we do, it is our responsibility as legislators to correct those flaws,” wrote Senator Eddie Lucio, who will leave the Senate at the end of the year.

The Zurawskis took part in an advertisement for Beto O’Rourke’s failed gubernatorial campaign in Texas.

After her waters broke, Amanda’s doctors sent her home and told her to watch for signs of infection, and that they wouldn’t terminate the pregnancy until she was “deemed sick enough that my life was in danger,” Amanda said.

“My doctor said it could take hours, it could take days, it could take weeks,” she recalls.

Once they heard “hours,” they decided there was no time to travel to another state for an abortion.

“The nearest ‘sanctuary’ state is at least eight hours away,” Amanda wrote in an online essay on The Meteor. “Developing sepsis — which can quickly kill — in a car in the middle of the West Texas desert, or 30,000 feet above the ground, is a death sentence.”

So they waited it out in Texas.

On August 26, three days after her waters broke, Amanda was shivering in the Texas heat.

“We had a heat wave, I think it was 105 degrees that day, and I was freezing cold, and I was shaking, my teeth were chattering. I tried to tell Josh I wasn’t feeling well, and my teeth were chattering so hard I couldn’t even get the sentence out,” she said.

Josh was shocked by his wife’s condition.

“It was very, very scary to see her go from a normal temperature to the state she was in in the space of maybe five minutes,” he said. “Very quickly, she went downhill very, very quickly. She was in a state I’ve never seen her in.”

Josh rushed his wife to the hospital. Her temperature was 102 degrees. She was too weak to walk alone.

Her temperature rose to 103 degrees. In the end, Amanda was so sick that the doctors felt legally safe to terminate the pregnancy, she said.

But Amanda was so sick that antibiotics couldn’t stop the bacterial infection rampaging through her body. Even a blood transfusion did not cure her.

About 12 hours after her pregnancy was terminated, doctors and nurses poured into her room.

“There’s a lot of commotion and I said, ‘what’s going on?’ and they said, “we’re moving you to ICU,” and I said, “why?” and they said, ‘you develop symptoms of sepsis,'” she said.

Sepsis, the body’s extreme response to infection, is a life-threatening medical emergency.

Amanda’s blood pressure plummeted. Her platelets dropped. She doesn’t remember much from that time.

But Josh does.

“It was really scary to see Amanda crash,” he said. “I was really afraid I was going to lose her.”

Relatives flew in from all over the country because they feared it would be the last time they would see Amanda.

Doctors inserted an intravenous line near her heart to administer antibiotics and drugs to stabilize her blood pressure. Finally, Amanda turned the corner and survived.

But her medical ordeal isn’t over yet.

Amanda’s uterus was scarred from the infection and she may not be able to have more children. She recently had surgery to fix the scars, but it’s unclear if it will work.

That scares the Zurawskis – and furious that they may never have a family because of a Texas law.

“[This] didn’t have to happen,’ Amanda said. “That’s what’s so irritating about all of this is that we didn’t have to go through all this trauma.”

The Zurawskis say the politicians who voted for the anti-abortion bill call themselves “pro-life,” but they don’t see it that way.

Amanda almost died. That’s not pro-life. Amanda will have challenges with more children in the future. That’s not pro-life,” Josh said.

“Nothing left [this] feels pro-life,” his wife added.

In many ways, Amanda feels lucky. She wonders if she would be alive today if it weren’t for her husband, who rushed her to the hospital and made sure she received the best possible care. And they have good jobs with good health insurance and they live in a big city with quality health care.

“All these things I had in front of me, and yet this was the result,” she said.

She and Josh worry about rural women, or poor women, or young, single mothers in states like Texas. What would happen to them given what happened to Amanda?

“These barbaric laws prevented her from getting any kind of health care when she needed it until it was at a life-threatening time,” Josh said.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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