Amanda Zurawski considers herself lucky to be alive after doctors were unable to terminate an unviable pregnancy.
When she was around 18 weeks pregnant, the US woman’s water broke and she was told the baby wouldn’t survive. It was devastating news – she and husband Josh had just been through 18 months of fertility treatments to conceive their baby girl.
“We found out that we were going to lose our baby,” Amanda, 35, said.
“My cervix was dilating fully, 22 weeks prematurely, and I was inevitably going to miscarry.”
When they asked the doctor if there was anything that could be done to save the baby, they were not given any hope. They baby was going to die, it was just a matter of when.
But because the pair live in Austin, Texas, Amanda said that due to the near-total ban on abortion in the state, they were not able to terminate the pregnancy because the baby still had a heartbeat.
And because Amanda’s water had broken, she was at risk of infection.
She either had to wait to get sick enough for doctors to intervene, or miscarry on her own.
“[They] were unable to do their own jobs because of the way that the laws are written in Texas,” she said.
So Amanda was sent home and told to watch for signs of infection.
“The nearest ‘sanctuary’ state is at least an eight-hour drive,” Amanda wrote in an online essay on The Meteor.
“Developing 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.”
The couple decided to stay in Texas, and within three days they knew something was wrong.
“We were having a heatwave, I think it was 105 degrees (40.5C) that day, and I was freezing cold. I was shaking, my teeth were chattering,” she said.
Josh was shocked by how quickly Amanda deteriorated.
“To see in a matter of maybe five minutes, for her to go from a normal temperature to the condition she was in, was really, really scary,” he said.
“Very quickly, she went downhill very, very fast. She was in a state I’ve never seen her in.”
Josh rushed his wife to hospital where her temperature was 38.9C and she could not walk on her own and wasn’t coherent. Her temperature then increased to 39.5C.
“She didn’t really understand what was going on.”
Only now that the situation was life-threatening, could the doctors finally act and terminate the pregnancy.
However, by that point the antibiotics weren’t enough to stop the infection, nor was a blood transfusion. She had to be moved to the ICU as she developed symptoms of sepsis, a life-threatening emergency.
Then, her blood pressure and platelets dropped.
“It was really scary to see Amanda crash,” he said. “I was really scared I was going to lose her.”
The couple is sharing their story now in a video series where three obstetricians travel America to help share the harm unfolding under abortion bans.
“We asked all of our doctors and our nurses, isn’t there something you can do, and they said no,” Amanda says in the video.
“I couldn’t make the decision for myself, we couldn’t make the decision for our daughter, our doctors couldn’t make the decision. They were just as furious as we were because their hands were tied. Had they acted, they would have been charged with a felony.”
Amanda says it was all unnecessary.
“[This] didn’t have to happen,” Amanda said of that day in August. “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.”
Husband Josh is upset too.
“Amanda almost died. That’s not pro-life,” Josh said.
“Amanda will have challenges in the future having more kids. That’s not pro-life.”
Her uterus was scarred from the infection, which means she may not be able to have any more children, even though she has had surgery to try to fix the scarring.