Another woman gave harrowing details of how the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade four months ago put her life in danger.
CNN 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 because she couldn’t get an abortion in time.
This is her story.
Amanda Eid and Josh Zurawski, now 35, met in 1991. at Aldersgate Academy Preschool in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and met in high school.
“Josh has always told me he loves me since we were 4 years old,” Amanda said.
They married three years ago in Austin, Texas, where they both work in high-tech jobs.
They tried to start a family but failed. Amanda underwent fertility treatment for a year and a half and finally became pregnant.
“So excited to share that baby Zurawski is due at the end of January,” Amanda shared on Instagram in July. The post included a photo of her and her husband wearing “Mommy” and “Daddy” hats, while Amanda held up a ribbon of ultrasound photos of their baby girl.
“The fact that we were pregnant at all was a miracle and we were overjoyed,” she said.
But after 18 weeks of pregnancy – just four months – Amanda’s water broke.
The amniotic fluid that her baby depended on had leaked out. She says her doctor told her the baby would not survive.
“We found out we were going to lose our baby,” Amanda said. “My cervix was fully dilated 22 weeks premature and I inevitably had a miscarriage.
She and Josh begged the doctor to find out if there was any way to save the baby.
“I just kept asking, ‘Is there anything we can do?’ And the answer was no, Amanda said.
When a woman’s water breaks, she is at high risk of contracting a life-threatening infection. Although Amanda and Josh’s baby, whom they named Willow, had indeed died, her heart was still beating, so doctors said they could not terminate the pregnancy under Texas law.
“My doctor said, ‘Well, at this point we just have to wait because we can’t induce labor even if you’re 100% sure you’re going to lose your baby,'” Amanda said. “[The doctors] couldn’t do his job because of the way the laws are written in Texas.
Texas law allows abortion if the mother “has a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or resulting from the pregnancy that threatens the woman with death or serious risk of impairment of an important bodily function.”
But Texas lawmakers haven’t spelled out exactly what that means, and a doctor found to have violated the law could lose his medical license and face life in prison.
“They’re very vague,” said Katie Keith, director of the Georgetown University Law Center’s Health Policy and Law Initiative. “They do not specify precisely the situations in which an abortion can be performed.”
In September, CNN contacted 28 Texas lawmakers who have supported anti-abortion laws, asking them to respond to CNN’s stories about the woman in Houston and the woman in central Texas.
Only one lawmaker responded.
“Like any other law, there are unintended consequences. We don’t want to see any unintended consequences; if we do, it is our responsibility as lawmakers to correct those deficiencies,” wrote state Sen. Eddie Lucio, who will leave the Senate at the end of the year.
The Zurawskis were involved in advertising for Beth O’Rourke’s failed campaign for governor of Texas.
After her water broke, Amanda’s doctors sent her home and told her to watch for signs of infection and that only when she was “sick enough that my life was in danger” would they terminate the pregnancy, Amanda said.
“My doctor said it could take hours, it could take days, it could take weeks,” she recalls.
After hearing “hours,” they decided there was no time to travel to another state for an abortion.
“The closest ‘sanctuary’ state is at least an eight-hour drive away,” Amanda wrote in an online essay for The Meteor. “Developing sepsis, which can kill quickly, 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 in Texas.
On August 26, three days after her water 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, shaking, teeth chattering. I tried to tell Josh I wasn’t feeling well and my teeth were so gritted I couldn’t even pass a sentence,” she said.
Josh was shocked by his wife’s condition.
“To see her go from normal temperature to the condition she was in in maybe five minutes was really, really scary,” he said. “Very quickly, she was going down very, very quickly. She was in a state I had never seen her in before.
Josh took his wife to the hospital. Her temperature was 102 degrees. She was too weak to walk on her own.
Her temperature rose to 103 degrees. Eventually, Amanda got sick enough that doctors felt it was legally safe to terminate the pregnancy, she said.
But Amanda was so sick that the antibiotics didn’t stop the bacterial infection raging in her body. A blood transfusion did not cure her either.
About 12 hours after the termination, doctors and nurses flooded 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’re developing symptoms of sepsis,'” she said.
Sepsis, the body’s extreme response to infection, is a life-threatening medical emergency.
Amanda’s blood pressure dropped. Her platelets have dropped. She doesn’t remember much from those times.
But Josh does.
“It was really scary to see Amanda crash,” he said. “I was really afraid I was going to lose her.”
Family members 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 to her heart to administer antibiotics and medication to stabilize her blood pressure. Finally, Amanda turned the corner and survived.
But her medical ordeal was not over.
Amanda’s uterus was scarred by the infection, and she may not be able to have any more children. She recently underwent surgery to repair the scar, but it is not clear if it will be successful.
That left the Zurawskis scared — and furious that they might never have a family because of the Texas law.
“[This] shouldn’t have happened,” Amanda said. “That’s what’s so upsetting about all of this is that we didn’t have to — we didn’t have to — go through all this trauma.
The Zurawskis say the politicians who voted for the anti-abortion law call themselves “pro-life,” but they don’t see it.
“Amanda almost died. It’s not for life. Amanda will have challenges with having more children in the future. It’s not for life,” Josh said.
“Nothing about [this] feels for life,” added his wife.
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 got the best possible care. And they have good jobs with good health insurance and live in a big city with high quality health care.
“All these things I loved and still this was the result,” she said.
She and Josh worry about women in rural areas, 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 health care she needed before it was life-threatening,” Josh said.