Amanda Zurawski. File photo
Image caption,

“I cried for joy when I heard the news,” says lead plaintiff Amanda Zurawski

Women in Texas with serious pregnancy complications will be temporarily exempted from the southern US state’s abortion ban, a judge has ruled.

Judge Jessica Mangrum said there was a lack of clarity in the legislation, siding with women and doctors who had sued Texas over the ban in March.

Doctors would not be prosecuted when exercising their “good faith judgement” for provision of abortions, she added.

The temporary injunction will be in force until the lawsuit is decided.

Friday’s ruling is expected to be appealed by the state.

The Texas law that bans all abortions except in dire medical circumstances is seen as one of the strictest in the US.

Breaking the ban can carry a $100,000 (£78,000) fine and up to life in prison.

The legislation was introduced in 2022 – shortly after the Supreme Court overturned its 50-year-old Roe v Wade decision, meaning that millions of women across the country lost the constitutional right to abortion.

This case is the first brought on behalf of women who have been denied abortions since then.

The group of women and doctors are suing the state of Texas in the hope of changing the ban, to give doctors more leeway in determining when an abortion is necessary. 

In her ruling in the city of Austin, Judge Mangrum wrote that women were “delayed or denied access to abortion care because of the widespread uncertainty regarding physicians’ level of discretion under the medical exception to Texas’s abortion bans”.

She also said that doctors must be allowed to determine what constituted medical emergencies that would risk a woman’s health or even life.

The temporary injunction is intended to last until the lawsuit is decided. But under Texas law, a ruling is automatically stayed as soon as it is appealed, so it could be blocked once the state appeals.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, which is suing Texas, hailed the ruling.

“Today’s ruling alleviates months of confusion around what conditions qualify as medical emergencies under Texas’ abortion bans, giving doctors permission to use their own medical judgment in determining when abortion care is needed,” the group said.

Lead plaintiff Amanda Zurawski said that “for the first time in a long time, I cried for joy when I heard the news”.

Ms Zurawski says her life was put at risk last year when she was denied an abortion.


The lawsuit filed last March against Texas presses for a binding interpretation of the medical emergencies in the current law.

The Texas attorney general’s office argues that the exceptions being pushed by the plaintiffs would effectively allow ways of bypassing the ban.

“It would, for example, permit abortions for pregnant females with medical conditions ranging from a headache to feelings of depression,” office lawyers say.

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