Texas woman denied abortion calls out Cruz, Cornyn at Senate hearing: “I nearly died on their watch”

Amanda Zurawski is one of five women suing the state over its aggressive abortion laws

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published April 27, 2023 12:22PM (EDT)

Amanda Zurawski of Austin, Texas, is sworn in to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled "The Assault on Reproductive Rights in a Post-Dobbs America," in Hart Building on Wednesday, April 26, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Amanda Zurawski of Austin, Texas, is sworn in to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled "The Assault on Reproductive Rights in a Post-Dobbs America," in Hart Building on Wednesday, April 26, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Amanda Zurawski, a Texas woman suing the state after being denied an abortion, told senators that the denial of care damaged her mental health and potentially "robbed" her of the opportunity to have children in the future, according to CNN.

She addressed absent Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, telling them she "nearly died on their watch" because of the anti-abortion policies that they support during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on reproductive rights post-Dobbs, the Supreme Court decision that overturned the federal right to abortion last summer.

"We've heard a lot today about the mental trauma and the negative harmful effects on a person's psychological well-being after they have an abortion, supposedly, and I'm curious why that's not relevant for me as well," Zurawski said.

"Because I wasn't permitted to have an abortion and the trauma and the PTSD and the depression that I have dealt with in the eight months since this happened to me is paralyzing," she added. "On top of that, I am still struggling to have children."

Zurawski was reportedly denied an abortion following pregnancy complications 18 weeks into her pregnancy. Her water broke, leaving her at a high risk of contracting a deadly infection and fatally threatening the life of her baby. Because the child still had a heartbeat, Zurawksi's doctors refused to terminate the pregnancy, citing Texas law.

Her doctors only administered abortion care after she went into septic shock, she told the committee, adding that she may have been one of the first Texas patients affected by the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

She is also one of five women currently suing Texas for pain and suffering after being denied abortion care amidst dangerous pregnancy complications due to the state's restrictive and aggressive abortion laws.

Their language is "incredibly vague, and it leaves doctors grappling with what they can and cannot do, what health care they can and cannot provide," Zurawski said, in response to implications that her doctors were to blame. "And if they make the wrong the decision, they face up to 99 years in prison and/or losing their license."

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Dr. Ingrid Skop, a Texas obstetrician-gynecologist and GOP witness hailed to give her opinion on Zurawski's experience by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., apologized to Zurawski for her loss and her doctor's misunderstanding.

"And I am so sorry that your doctors misunderstood Texas law," she said. "Every single law allows an exclusion for a doctor to use their reasonable medical judgment to determine when to intervene in a medical emergency, which is usually defined as a threat to the life of the mother or permanent irreversible damage to an organ or an organ system."

She added that even prior to the Supreme Court decision, doctors knew how to assess medical emergencies and offer abortions when needed, citing the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology's guidance on how to do so for patients in Zurawski's situation.

Sen. Cornyn, R-Texas, later weighed in, suggesting that Zurawski should consider pursuing a medical malpractice suit against her doctors.

"Dr. Skop is not my physician. She has never been my physician. She has never treated me. She has not seen my medical records," Zurawski said later in the hearing, addressing both Skop and Cornyn's comments.

"Quite frankly, my physician and my team of health care professionals that I saw over the course of three days, while I was repeatedly turned away from health care access, made the decision to not provide an abortion because that's what they felt they had to do under Texas' law. And that will continue to happen and it is continuing to happen, and it's not a result of misinterpretation. It's the result of confusion and the confusion is because the way the law is written."

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

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Abortion Brief John Cornyn Politics Ted Cruz