Another woman offered the harrowing details of how the Supreme Court’s decision four months ago to overturn Roe v. Wade put his 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 an Austin, Texas woman has come forward because she nearly died when she couldn’t get an abortion in time.
It’s his story.
Amanda Eid and Josh Zurawski, both now 35, met in 1991 at Aldersgate Academy preschool in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and dated in high school.
“Josh always tells me he’s been in love with me since we were 4,” Amanda said.
Three years ago, they got married in Austin, Texas, where they both work in high-tech jobs.
They tried to start a family but failed. Amanda underwent fertility treatments for a year and a half and eventually became pregnant.
“So excited to share that Baby Zurawski is due end of January,” Amanda shared on Instagram in July. The post included a photo of her and her husband wearing ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ hats, with Amanda holding a strip of ultrasound photos of their baby girl.
“The fact that we were pregnant was a miracle and we were so happy,” she said.
But then, 18 weeks – just four months – into her pregnancy, Amanda’s water broke.
The amniotic fluid that her baby depended on was leaking 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 dilating 22 weeks earlier, and I was inevitably going to have a miscarriage.”
She and Josh begged the doctor to see if there was a way to save the baby.
“I kept asking, ‘isn’t there anything we can do?’ And the answer was ‘no,’” Amanda said.
When a woman’s water breaks, she is at high risk of life-threatening infection. While Amanda and Josh’s baby – they named her Willow – was sure to die, she still had a heartbeat, so doctors said under Texas law they couldn’t terminate the pregnancy.
“My doctor said, ‘Well, right now we just have to wait, because we can’t induce labor, even though you’re 100 percent sure you’ll lose your baby,'” Amanda said. “[The doctors] were unable to do their own work because of the way the laws are written in Texas.
Texas law permits abortion if the mother “has a life-threatening aggravated physical condition caused by or resulting from a pregnancy that places the woman at risk of death or presents a serious risk of substantial impairment of function. major body”.
But Texas lawmakers haven’t clarified exactly what that means, and a doctor found guilty of breaking the law can face the loss of their medical license and possible life in prison.
“They’re extremely vague,” said Katie Keith, director of the Health Policy and Law Initiative at Georgetown University Law Center. “They don’t specify exactly the situations in which an abortion can be performed.”
In September, CNN reached out to 28 Texas lawmakers who have sponsored anti-abortion legislation, asking for their response to CNN’s stories about the Houston woman and the Central Texas woman.
Only one legislator 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 these flaws,” wrote Sen. Eddie Lucio, who will leave the Senate at the end of the year.
The Zurawskis took part in a commercial for Beto O’Rourke’s unsuccessful Texas gubernatorial campaign.
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 “deemed sick enough would my life was in danger” that they would terminate the pregnancy, Amanda said.
“My doctor told me it could take hours, it could take days, it could take weeks,” she recalls.
Once they heard “hours” they decided there was no time to travel to another state for an abortion.
“The nearest ‘sanctuary’ state is at least eight hours away,” Amanda wrote in an online essay on The Meteor. “To develop 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 for him in Texas.
On August 26, three days after her water broke, Amanda found herself shivering in the Texas heat.
“We had a heat wave, I think it was 105 degrees that day, and I was freezing cold, and I was shaking, my teeth were chattering. I was trying to tell Josh that I didn’t feel well, and my teeth were chattering so loudly that I couldn’t even say the sentence,” she said.
Josh was shocked by his wife’s condition.
“To see in the space of maybe five minutes that she go from a normal temperature to the state she was in was really, really scary,” he said. “Very quickly, she came down very, very quickly. She was in a state that I had never seen her in.
Josh rushed his wife to the hospital. His temperature was 102 degrees. She was too weak to walk on her own.
His temperature rose to 103 degrees. Finally, Amanda was sick enough that doctors felt legally safe to terminate the pregnancy, she said.
But Amanda was so sick that the antibiotics couldn’t stop the bacterial infection raging in her body. A blood transfusion didn’t cure her either.
About 12 hours after her pregnancy was terminated, 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 intensive care,’ and I said, ‘why?’ and they said, ‘you are 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. His platelets dropped. She doesn’t remember much from that time.
But Josh does.
“It was really scary to see Amanda crash,” he said. “I was really afraid of losing her.”
Family members traveled from across the country because they feared this would be the last time they would see Amanda.
Doctors inserted an intravenous line near his heart to administer antibiotics and medication to stabilize his blood pressure. Eventually, Amanda turned the corner and survived.
But his medical ordeal is not over.
Amanda’s uterus has been scarred from the infection and she may not be able to have any more children. She recently underwent surgery to repair the scars, but it’s unclear if it will be successful.
This leaves the Zurawskis scared – and furious that they will never have a family because of a Texas law.
“[This] was not supposed to happen,” Amanda said. “That’s what’s so infuriating about all of this is that we didn’t have to – we shouldn’t have – gone through all that trauma.”
The Zurawskis say politicians who voted for the anti-abortion law call themselves “pro-life” — but they don’t see it that way.
“Amanda almost died. It’s not pro-life. Amanda will have challenges in the future to have more children. It’s not pro-life,” Josh said.
“Nothing about [this] feels pro-life,” his wife added.
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 hospital and made sure she received the best care possible. And they have good jobs with good health insurance and they live in a big city with high quality health care.
“All these things I had going for me, and yet, that was the result,” she said.
She and Josh worry about women in rural areas, or poor women, or young single mothers in states like Texas. What would happen to them, considering what had happened to Amanda?
“These barbaric laws kept her from getting health care when she needed it, until her life was in danger,” Josh said.