Lawsuit Challenging Texas Abortion Ban

Hearings Continue in Case Asking State District Court Judge to Clarify Medical Exemptions Under Texas Law

Amanda Zurawski spoke at a news conference in Austin in March, an example of the extensive media coverage Plaintiffs have sought to bring publicity to the case.


The Texas law banning abortion is being challenged in a Travis County Texas District Court. The Plaintiffs in Zurawski v. State of Texas now include 13 women who claim their abortions were denied or delayed because of “vague” language in our state law. Two Texas doctors also joined the lawsuit originally filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights as Attorney for Plaintiffs in March.

The lawsuit alleges the denial of “necessary and potentially life-saving obstetrical care because medical professionals throughout the state fear liability under Texas’ abortion bans.”

Plaintiffs filed a temporary injunction in May to block the enforcement of the abortion ban on pregnant women with medically complicated pregnancies. The State of Texas then made a motion to dismiss the case asserting among other arguments that Plaintiffs lack standing to bring this suit.

Judge Madeleine Connor of the State District Court of Travis County is hearing arguments for both sides during two days of hearings that started yesterday and will conclude today. Three of the Plaintiffs detailed their abortion experience in yesterday’s hearing.

Since last year’s Dobbs decision on June 24 overturning Roe v. Wade, this is the first case in which pregnant women have personally taken legal action against a state’s abortion ban and one of the first major lawsuits challenging the Texas abortion ban.

Regardless of this lawsuit’s outcome, Professor Mohapatra stated Texas’ abortion ban will continue to be challenged in other lawsuits that could include women who want to terminate a pregnancy without emergency medical complications.

Texas Abortion Law

Abortion was outlawed in Texas on August 25 of last year under the Human Life Protection Act of 2021 (HB 1280) following the Dobbs decision. HB 1280 protects an unborn baby from conception until birth and subjects a physician or other health care professional who violates the law to up to 99 years imprisonment and a penalty of $100,000 or more. (See Council for Life News HERE)

Exceptions for Medical Emergencies Posing Risk to Life of Mother

A medical exception exists under Texas’ prohibition on abortion when a physician, in their reasonable medical judgment, concludes that a pregnant woman “has a life-threatening physical condition…that places the female at risk of death or poses a serious risk of substantial impairment of a major bodily function unless the abortion is performed or induced.”

The Plaintiffs in the case are asking Judge Connor to clarify these exceptions, alleging that what constitutes a life-threatening emergency is not clearly defined and that they were denied abortions under Texas law while facing medical crises.

The State of Texas notes:

  • The definition of abortion under Texas law does not include the removal of a deceased unborn child due to spontaneous abortion (ie, miscarriage) or for the removal of an ectopic pregnancy.
  • Plaintiff’s request to the Court to “clarify” the scope of the medical exception by adopting a new version that includes “any emergent medical conditions that pose a risk to pregnant people’s lives or health (including their fertility)” is so broad that it “would, for example, permit abortions for pregnant females with medical conditions ranging from a headache to feelings of depression.”
  • Plaintiffs’ “splashy news conferences and media tours do not transform Texas courts into the proper venue for Plaintiffs to ‘tell their stories’ nor are they the place to ‘change the law’…”

Potential Decision Outcomes

The possible outcomes of Judge Connor’s decision include:

  • Grant a Temporary Injunction that would effectively allow physicians to provide an abortion for a woman in Texas with any medical conditions that could pose any degree of risk to her life or health.
  • Not Grant the Temporary Injunction meaning the current Texas ban will continue while the case continues to be litigated.


If Judge Connor dismisses the case, it would likely be appealed to the Austin based Third Court of Appeals, a six-member court composed of Democrats.

Council for Life continues our prayers for the safety and protection of the life of every pregnant woman and the life of every unborn child.