A Crucial Perspective on Abortion Rights in Texas

Abortion bans in the U.S. have devastating consequences- especially for women and gender-diverse people with disabilities. Amanda Spriggs Reid, WEI’s Equal Justice Works Fellow Sponsored by Anonymous led the effort to bring our perspective to litigation in the Zurawski v. State of Texas case.

WEI recently contributed an amicus brief to bring a disability lens to the pivotal Zurawski v. State of Texas abortion rights case.

The case was brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of the growing list of plaintiffs – Texas women who were denied abortion care under the Texas abortion bans, and as a result, faced serious risks to their lives, health, and future fertility – as well as Texas OB-GYNs battling uncertainty that hinders them from providing crucial care.

The case challenges three Texas abortion bans which have resulted in devastating consequences for people in Texas who experience pregnancy complications that threaten their health and/or lives. This is particularly true for women and gender-diverse people with disabilities.

Our brief focuses on the disproportionate harm that people with disabilities face without access to medically necessary abortion care. It underscores the importance of protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities and ensuring equal access to reproductive healthcare.

In partnership with Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), the Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP), along with eight other organizations and legal academics who signed on in support of the brief, this amicus brief urges the Texas Supreme Court to consider the unique circumstances faced by our community and to interpret the medical exception to the abortion ban in a manner that upholds our rights and safeguards our well-being.

On November 28, 2023, the Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the case but have yet to release an opinion in Zurawski. However, in the following week, the Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit seeking an emergency abortion on behalf of Kate Cox, a Texas woman with a life-threatening pregnancy. The Texas Supreme Court chose to deny Ms. Cox medical care by claiming that her condition was not yet serious enough to meet the Texas bans’ medical exception, forcing her to seek out-of-state abortion care.

These Texas cases show that “exceptions” to abortion bans do not work and only result in the denial of bodily autonomy and life-saving healthcare.