My Pregnancy vs. the State of Texas

The loss of my daughter was inevitable. What happened next was not.


I was 18 weeks pregnant when I knew something was wrong. My body was leaking thick and yellowish discharge, and my pelvis felt what I could only describe as abnormally “open.” 

A shockingly brief examination later, I was diagnosed with an “incompetent cervix”—a condition in which the cervix prematurely dilates, usually during the second trimester of pregnancy and often leading to premature birth. 

The loss of my daughter, I was told, was inevitable. What happened next was not. 

It was evident from the moment my doctor saw my bulging amniotic sac that this was not a question of if I would lose my baby—the baby my husband and I wanted so badly and had worked for 18 months with the help of science and medicine to conceive. It was a question of when.

If we had conceived the previous year when we began our journey with infertility, or if we lived in a different state, my healthcare team would have been able to treat me immediately and end my doomed pregnancy as soon as possible, without risk to my life or my health. I wouldn’t have had to wait in anguish for days for the inescapable ill fate that awaited. But this was August 23, 2022, in the state of Texas, where abortion is illegal unless the pregnant person is facing “a life-threatening physical condition aggravated by, caused by, or arising from a pregnancy.” Somehow, any medical help to make the horrific inevitability of losing my beloved child 22 weeks early less difficult qualified as an illegal abortion. 

My doctor outlined the roadmap in no uncertain terms: I could wait however long it took to go into labor naturally, if I did at all, knowing that my baby would be stillborn or pass away soon after; I could wait for my baby’s heartbeat to stop, and then we could end the pregnancy; or—most alarmingly—I could develop an infection and become so sick that my life would become endangered. Not until one of those things happened would a single medical professional in the state of Texas legally be allowed to act. It was a waiting game, the most horrific version of a staring contest: Whose life would end first? Mine, or my daughter’s?

I knew I was going to lose my baby. And I knew it could be days—or weeks—of living with paralyzing agony before we could move forward. 

Amanda and her husband Josh on their wedding day.
Amanda and her husband Josh on their wedding day. (Image courtesy of Amanda Zurawski)

People have asked why we didn’t get on a plane or in our car to go to a state where the laws aren’t so restrictive. But we live in the middle of Texas, and the nearest “sanctuary” state is at least an 8-hour drive. 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, and it’s not a choice we should have had to even consider. But we did, albeit briefly.

Instead, it took three days at home until I became sick “enough” that the ethics board at our hospital agreed we could legally begin medical treatment; three days until my life was considered at-risk “enough” for the inevitable premature delivery of my daughter to be performed; three days until the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals were allowed to do their jobs. 

By the time I was permitted to deliver, a rapidly spreading infection had already claimed my daughter’s life and was in the process of claiming mine.

I developed a raging fever and dangerously low blood pressure and was rushed to the ICU with sepsis. Tests found both my blood and my placenta teeming with bacteria that had multiplied, probably as a result of the wait. I would stay in the ICU for three more days as medical professionals battled to save my life. 

Friends visited every night. Family flew in from across the country. I didn’t realize until nearly a month later that my doctors, nurses, and loved ones feared I was going to die. 

We still don’t know the extent of damage the wait or the infection had on my body. I’m facing months of procedures and tests to know whether my eggs or my reproductive system were permanently harmed. In fact, later this week I’m having surgery to remove the massive amount of scar tissue plaguing my uterus as a result of the infections. We don’t know yet whether the baby we want more than anything will ever be possible.

Everything that happened after my cervix dilated was avoidable, and it never should have happened. What’s worse is I’m not the only one. This will happen to many women—of all races, all ethnicities, all ages, all across the country—if we don’t fight back. 

When the six-week abortion ban in Texas passed last year and Roe vs. Wade was overturned this year, I was furious. But as someone who was then desperately trying everything I could to have a child, I never imagined it would impact me personally. I didn’t realize then the extent to which these laws would truly restrict a woman’s right to make the right decisions for herself, her body, and her future children. I didn’t realize the laws I was angry about would soon prevent me from safe access to healthcare. I didn’t realize these laws would directly prevent doctors from being able to protect their patients in so many ways. 

But it’s not just me, and it’s not just Texas. As more states pass similar laws—let alone if members of Congress enact a federal ban on abortion—my story will become the norm. The number of people who will be hurt will be too much to bear, and we have to do something to stop it. 

Being angry isn’t enough. To enact change, we must vote and make sure our elected officials know that this is not okay and we will not allow it.

We named our daughter Willow—after the tree that’s known for its ability to withstand adversity and fight against harsh conditions. With our Willow, we’ll show our strength and we will fight. 

Amanda Zurawski lives in Texas with her husband, Josh, whom she met in preschool in their home state of Indiana, and their dogs Paisley and Millie.

Stay tuned for more United States of Abortion Stories. And read more here about the medical facts in Amanda’s case. 

For abortion access resources and to create a voting plan for the 2022 midterm elections, visit

Video Credits

Director: Amy Elliott
Editor: Ellen Callaghan
DP: Pat Blackard

Camera: Tony Lopez
Audio: Chris Kupeli
Field producer: Karen Bernstein
Music: “Come On Doom, Let’s Party”
Written and performed by Emily Wells
Courtesy of Thesis & Instinct
By arrangement with Terrorbird Media

This film is a project of The Meteor Fund, and produced in partnership with Harness; with support from Pop Culture Collaborative.