“They Don’t Look at Us as Human Beings”

Lead plaintiff Amanda Zurawski on the Texas Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a ban that almost killed her—and why she’s planning to run for office herself


We’ve grown accustomed to courts acting coldly, but last Friday’s Texas Supreme Court decision seemed especially and brutally devoid of compassion. In Zurawski v. State of Texas, the court had heard from 20 women who had been denied abortion care when experiencing pregnancy complications—women who had hemorrhaged, been forced to carry babies without skulls, and nearly died. And yet, the justices still ruled not to change or amend Texas’s abortion ban, which has forced doctors to deny patients vital medical care out of fear of prosecution. (What this says about the state’s regard for the vastly greater number of people who need abortions for less “medically necessary” reasons—such as, you know, not wanting to be pregnant anymore—is a story for another time.)

Over the weekend, I called Amanda Zurawski, the woman who lent her name—and the last year and a half of her life—to the lawsuit. I first met Amanda in the fall of 2022 when a doctor whispered to one of my Meteor colleagues that there was a woman in Austin who’d been through hell and might be willing to share her story. She did, detailing her harrowing experience for the world, but then went on to do much more, testifying before Congress, speaking up for other patients—and taking on her own state’s government. 

Cindi Leive: This decision felt like a punch in the face to so many women—but for those of you who testified, and your families, it was so personal. What measure of justice were you and [your husband] Josh expecting? How much was this a surprise to you?

Amanda Zurawski: It wasn’t a huge surprise because we know that the Texas Supreme Court is full of conservative Republicans—[all] nine of [the justices] are conservative Republicans. And then, after the ruling in the Kate Cox case [in which the court denied the December 2023 abortion request of a Texas woman whose fetus had no chance of survival], that was a signal of how our case was going to go. So we had time to prepare for a loss.

What we weren’t expecting, and what we were really surprised by, was the way that they wrote the decision—that they literally wrote out most of the plaintiffs by not even using their name. [Only three patients and two doctors were referred to by name in the ruling.] And that felt unnecessarily cruel and offensive…To me, it means they don’t care about us and they don’t look at us as human beings. They don’t care about our trauma, our grief, our loss. They don’t want to acknowledge us. Because as long as they can ignore us and pretend like we don’t exist—just like my Senators [Ted Cruz and John Cornyn] did when I testified in front of Congress—they can pretend like the problem isn’t real.

We did a press call right after the ruling came out, and there were 11 plaintiffs that could join. And seeing their faces and hearing their voices and how heartbroken they were—that was really gutting.

(L-R) CRR Senior Staff Attorney Molly Duane, plaintiffs Lauren Hall, Amanda Zurawski, Anna Zargarian, Lauren Miller, and CRR President & CEO Nancy Northup at the Texas State Capitol (Photo by Rick Kern/Getty Images for the Center for Reproductive Rights )

You said that that was the hardest part for you. Why?

I want to acknowledge my name was used in the Supreme Court’s decision. They did acknowledge what happened to me personally, and they didn’t for anyone else. And that feels very unfair and very unjust. And I also feel a little bit like…people were counting on me, I think, because I was the first one to file, because it was my name on the suit…I do feel a little bit like people were depending on me, and I feel a little bit like I let them down.

You said on Friday, “We will continue to fight.” Tell me how. 

Well, I don’t think our lawsuit can do much more. People keep asking me if it’s going to go to the U.S. Supreme Court, and I want to make it very clear that…likely, this is the end. But we can keep fighting in other ways. Personally, I will continue to campaign to get people to vote for pro-choice candidates. We can continue to share our own stories and to share other people’s stories. We can donate our time and our money to abortion providers and organizations.

And did you say that some of the Texas Supreme Court justices are up for reelection?

Yes! There are three up for reelection [Jimmy Blacklock, John Devine, and Jane Bland]. I think we know now very clearly how they feel about…a woman’s right to choose, so I’m really hoping that we can get the word out before November and not get them reelected. It feels really good to be able to say that so clearly, because for a year and a half I couldn’t, because we had an ongoing lawsuit. [Now] I’m like, let’s light some fires.

I’ve been thinking about what’s happened in Texas since you first filed your lawsuit. You were the first [plaintiff], and then there were five women, and then 20. And I don’t know if you saw this thread, but just two weeks ago, Ryan Hamilton, a musician and DJ, tweeted that his wife, who had been pregnant with their second child, was denied abortion care in a very similar situation to yours. Despite the baby no longer having a heartbeat, she was repeatedly sent home. She lost so much blood that he found her unconscious on the bathroom floor. She almost died. This happened in Texas two weeks ago. How does it feel knowing that while the Supreme Court is making this decision, claiming that doctors are able to do the right thing [under existing Texas law], the number of women who have been exactly where you were continues to climb?

Ryan Hamilton sharing his wife’s heartbreaking story (Screenshot via CBS News)

That story makes me sick to my stomach. And it’s going to keep happening, because lawmakers aren’t doing anything to fix it. It’s infuriating that the Supreme Court of Texas had the opportunity to fix this—had the opportunity to make things better—and they did nothing. And when the Supreme Court says, “Doctors can practice medicine, this isn’t a problem, the law is clear”—clearly that’s not the case! Listen to our stories. Listen to what’s happening to us. Listen to doctors. They refuse to hear us, and I don’t know what it’s going to take for them to wake up and realize that people are dying because of this. Or if they haven’t yet, they’re going to. 

There’s an enormous amount of suffering happening in Texas and similar states, and they need to fix it. 

Three months ago, when the Alabama Supreme Court was deeming embryos people, you said that you worried that Texas was going to do the same, and that you were going to move your embryos out of state. The irony is incredible: You need IVF because the state’s laws impacted your fertility, and now the state is making that path to having a family more difficult. How has that process felt? 

It was pretty upsetting, because moving embryos is, as you can imagine, incredibly complicated. It is very expensive. And from my understanding, things don’t go wrong very often, but if they do, it’s catastrophic—you lose your embryos. As we [were] going through it, I’m like, this is terrifying, because I feel like we’re on a ticking clock, because Texas [could] make this decision [to criminalize IVF] any day. By the way, there now is a case about embryonic personhood that the Texas Supreme Court is deciding whether or not to hear…[and] depending on how they rule, it could do the exact same thing that happened in Alabama and threaten IVF access. Fortunately, our [embryos] are now safe, but if Trump is reelected, we’re scared that it won’t matter where your embryos are, because he’ll institute national bans or laws that are going to affect their safety. It’s just a really troubling, scary time right now to be trying to plan a family. 

Last question—what gives you hope right now? Is there anything?

You know, in our press call, my fellow plaintiff, Dr. Austin Dennard, said that she likes to think that people are good. And I agree with her. I think that most people at their core want to do the right thing. And when we’re speaking out about what happened to us, we do see a lot of goodness in most people. And I see the people who are fighting in their communities. I see people who are running for office because they’re trying to protect women. And I think there’s a lot to be hopeful about. I do think we’re going to fix this. It’s going to take a lot of work, but we can do it.

You mentioned women running for office. I can’t get off the phone without asking you the same question that America Ferrera asked you onstage at our event a year and a half ago. Any further thoughts about you running for office? 

Oh, yeah… That is probably going to happen. I’ve started trying to figure out what office might be a good fit for me. I’ve talked to a lot of different organizations; I’ve talked to a lot of different individuals. I think the next step would be fundraising. But Zurawski ‘26 is probably something you’ll see.

 Zurawski 2026. Amazing. We’ll leave it there.


The plaintiffs in the case are: Patients Amanda Zurawski, Lauren Miller, Lauren Hall, Anna Zargarian, Ashley Brandt, Kylie Beaton, Jessica Bernardo, Samantha Casiano, Austin Dennard, D.O., Taylor Edwards, Kiersten Hogan, Lauren Van Vleet, Elizabeth Weller, Kristen Anaya, Kaitlyn Kash, D. Aylen, Kimberly Manzano, Danielle Mathisen, M.D., Cristina Nuñez, and Amy Coronado; and health care providers Damla Karsan, M.D. and Judy Levison, M.D., M.P.H. Read their stories on Center for Reproductive Rights’ site.