'I nearly died': Texas abortion case reveals new US realityPAULA RAMON
AUSTIN, Texas - Amanda Zurawski, a resident of Texas, almost died waiting for an abortion she desperately didn't want.
Weeks after the US Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion last summer, her doctors in the conservative southern state said they could not legally carry out the procedure she needed.
So Zurawski had to wait until the baby she had so dearly wanted made her sick enough for them to act - a delay she says might have cost her the chance of ever having children.
"I nearly died on their watch," she says of Republican politicians who have increasingly pushed a hardline anti-abortion stance in the United States.
Zurawski, 36, has now dedicated her life to fighting what she sees as a regressive movement to strip women of healthcare rights - while she and her husband try for another baby.
"They say that they're doing this because it's pro-life, but I don't understand what's pro-life about this.
"Why did I have to almost die? Why are my future babies' lives at risk?" Abortion is one of the most significant fracture lines running through the United States.
The issue appeared to be legally settled in 1973 by the Supreme Court's landmark ruling in Roe v Wade, while a steady majority of Americans had told opinion pollsters they supported a woman's right to make such a decision.
But on the conservative and religious right it continued to bubble, with their eyes always set on eventually overturning Roe v Wade.
Last year, the conservative-dominated Supreme Court finally gave them their wish, striking down the half-century-old ruling and sparking a flurry of state-level restrictions and bans.
In Texas, that means doctors are barred from carrying out an abortion -- unless the mother's life is in danger.
Zurawski and her husband Josh disapproved of the legal changes in Texas, but didn't think it would affect them personally -- they desperately wanted to start a family.
After 18 months of fertility treatment, the couple were excited when Amanda became pregnant.
"My husband and I always knew we wanted children," she told AFP from her home in Austin, the Texas capital. "Our baby was very, very much wanted." But in August last year as she was planning her baby shower, Zurawski noticed something was wrong.
At the hospital, doctors said her cervix had dilated, just 18 weeks into her pregnancy.
"We were told a miscarriage was inevitable," she said.
"I wanted to get on with it. I wanted to be able to put it behind us, get through the trauma, then begin mourning, begin grieving." But she couldn't.
"The baby's heart was still beating and the laws in Texas prohibited them from giving me the healthcare that I needed, which was an abortion.
"So I had to wait until my life was considered at risk. And at that point - under the law - the doctors felt like they could intervene." The wait was horrific.
"It took three days between when I was diagnosed and when I went into septic shock.
"For those three days, I was not only mourning the loss of the baby, but I was also terrified because I didn't know what was going to happen." Zurawski spent three more days in intensive care, fighting off the illness.
The traumatic loss of her pregnancy left her battling mental anguish, while the sepsis left her with scarring on her uterus and one of her fallopian tubes.
The couple has since gone through multiple rounds of IVF in an effort to conceive the baby they so desperately want - so far unsuccessfully.
"The jury's still out on whether this is going to have a permanent effect on my fertility and ability to have kids," she said.
Zurawski decided to tell her story in the hope that she can help people to understand the harm their hardened ideological positions can cause.
Her profile - white, married, professional - aligns her with some of the people she sees as pushing hardest against abortion rights.
"They try to paint people who need abortions as young women of color, single, uneducated.
"I don't fit into that box. I look like the demographic that they want to believe would never need or want an abortion." Zurawski recognizes she is comparatively lucky -- with the support of a loving partner, economic security and the ability to stand up for herself.
And as places like Texas become ever-more rigid about their anti-abortion stances, women will suffer, she says.
"It's going to become less and less rare for what happened to me to happen to someone else.
"People are going to die from this." For Zurawski, the erosion in women's rights in the United States is like "going backwards in time." "I can't even imagine how all of this will impact me if I manage to get pregnant," she says.
And if her wishes are granted, she is acutely aware that nothing in Texas has changed.
"Who's to say this won't happen again?" - AFP