Over the summer, Amanda Eid’s water broke at just 18 weeks. Even though the Texas woman faced a high risk of infection or death the longer she carried the fetus, her doctors told her she couldn’t have an emergency abortion until she was “considered sick enough that [her] life was at risk,” CNN reported on Wednesday. The risk of life-threatening infection is even greater if the pregnant person’s water breaks.
Despite the threat Eid’s nonviable pregnancy posed to her life, the fetus still had a heartbeat, meaning Texas’ stringent abortion ban—which threatens abortion providers with life in prison—prohibited her from immediately receiving an emergency abortion. “My doctor said, ‘Well, right now we just have to wait, because we can’t induce labor, even though you’re 100% for sure going to lose your baby,’ ” Eid told CNN. “[The doctors] were unable to do their own jobs because of the way that the laws are written in Texas.”
Shortly after Eid’s water broke, the hospital sent her and her husband, Josh Zurawski, home and instructed them to watch for signs of infection, like sepsis. But the span of time for an infection to develop ranges from hours to days to weeks. The couple said they felt stuck—if signs of infection could arise within “hours,” there wasn’t time to travel out-of-state for a legal abortion.
Three days later, Eid became sick, developing a 103-degree fever that left her unable to walk on her own—so the hospital finally felt safe providing Eid an abortion. But hours after the procedure, doctors said she was developing symptoms of sepsis, and she was rushed to the ICU. “It was really scary to see Amanda crash. I was really scared I was going to lose her,” Zurawski said. The couple’s family members flew from across the country believing they would have to say goodbye.
Ultimately, doctors were able to stabilize Eid, but the scarring her uterus suffered from infection means she may never be able to conceive again. “[This] didn’t have to happen,” Eid said. “That’s what’s so infuriating about all of this, is that we didn’t have to—we shouldn’t have had to—go through all of this trauma.”
Eid’s story is reminiscent of a Missouri woman whose water broke, also at around 18 weeks into her already high-risk pregnancy. The hospital told the woman they couldn’t offer an emergency abortion due to the state’s abortion ban; when she called her Republican state senator’s office for help, his staff referred her to an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center. She wound up being forced to travel out of state for the procedure. This week, another woman experiencing a miscarriage recounted almost dying because a hospital in Ohio waited until her condition had deteriorated before performing an abortion.
In September, CNN contacted Texas legislators who sponsored the state’s abortion ban to respond to other Texas women’s stories of pregnancy-related emergencies. One, state Sen. Eddie Lucio, responded: “Like any other law, there are unintended consequences.”
Abortion bans in Texas, Missouri, and Ohio all have stated exceptions for threats to the pregnant person’s life, but these women’s stories demonstrate why such exceptions don’t work in reality, or are dangerously exclusionary. The ambiguity around exceptions for the life of the pregnant person, paired with the high risk doctors face of being criminalized (or, in Texas, sentenced to life in prison) for providing abortions means doctors are compelled to game things out, even when there’s no time to waste.
“Amanda almost died. That’s not pro-life,” Zurawski told CNN. “Amanda will have challenges in the future having more kids. That’s not pro-life.”