life after roe

Texas Woman Had Stillbirth After Hospital Threatened Her

Photo: Yoss Sabalet/Getty Images

When Kiersten Hogan unexpectedly learned she was pregnant in July 2021, she was living in Oklahoma with an emotionally and physically abusive partner. He did not want a child and told her she would have to have an abortion. Hogan, who wanted to keep the pregnancy, decided to leave him and relocate to Texas, where she had to go to the emergency room twice after experiencing bleeding and cramping in the first trimester. Twice, she says, she was told everything looked normal and sent home to rest.

Then in September 2021 — shortly after SB 8, which effectively banned abortion in Texas after six weeks, went into effect — Hogan felt her water break. She was 19 weeks pregnant. She says she was taken to a religious hospital, where she was diagnosed with cervical insufficiency and told that, had she received the diagnosis earlier, it could have been prevented. When she asked about her options, she says she was told she couldn’t receive an abortion under the new state law. Doctors told Hogan she’d have to remain in the hospital on bedrest until she went into labor or became sick enough for her providers to terminate the pregnancy. If she left the hospital, Hogan says she was warned, it would serve as evidence that she was trying to kill her baby and she could face criminal charges. After four days of feeling like a hostage in the hospital, Hogan had a stillbirth.

“I was not told enough information so that I could make my own informed decision without coercion. At every turn, staff reminded me how alone I was and how unmarried I was,” she said Monday in a press conference. “I was made to feel less than human. Texas law caused me to be detained against my will for five days and treated like a criminal during the most traumatic and heartbreaking experience I’ve had in my life to date.”

Hogan’s account is laid out as part of a newly amended lawsuit seeking to suspend Texas’s abortion bans. The original suit was filed in March by five women and two OB/GYNs, the first legal challenge of its kind since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer. Abortion is currently outlawed in Texas except in instances of narrowly defined medical emergencies, and those who violate the law face steep legal and financial consequences, including up to life in prison in addition to a civil penalty of no less than $100,000. Thirteen of the plaintiffs say they were denied abortion care when they developed severe and dangerous pregnancy complications—a direct result of the law’s vagueness and the fear of liability it has caused among health providers.

“The harms to pregnant Texans from the state’s abortion bans grow every day and should not continue,” reads the amended complaint, which was filed on Monday.

Hogan is one of eight women who’ve joined the suit and faced equally horrifying ordeals. Another new plaintiff, whose baby was diagnosed with anencephaly, a fatal condition, asked her doctor about her options, to which the lawsuit says they replied: ​​“You have no options. You will have to go through with your pregnancy,” before prescribing her an antidepressant. Yet another is an OB/GYN who had to travel out of state in secret in order to terminate her own pregnancy, only to see a patient of hers receive a similar fatal fetal diagnosis soon after and be denied care.

Two of the women, Kylie Beaton and Samantha Casiano, said they were forced to carry unviable pregnancies to term. “Samantha’s daughter passed four hours after birth, and Samantha was only able to afford a gravestone after NPR wrote a story about her and members of the public contributed to her GoFundMe,” the complaint reads. “Kylie was forced to undergo a Cesarean surgery because, due to the delays in her care caused by Texas’s abortion bans, she was no longer eligible for abortion care even out of state. Kylie’s son passed the same day they were discharged from the hospital.”

Plaintiff Jessica Bernardo was able to travel out of state after being denied an abortion. Her daughter, who she had named Emma, was diagnosed with fetal anasarca in October 2022. The condition is associated with the end stages of hydrops fetalis — when the fetus develops an abnormal buildup of fluids in the tissue around certain organs, such as the lungs and the heart — and signifies the impending death of a fetus. Bernardo was told to monitor herself for symptoms of mirror syndrome, a potentially fatal condition in which she’d develop the same severe fluid retention and complications as Emma. After she researched the condition and understood the risk to her life, she tried to obtain an abortion; the lawsuit says the ethics committee at her hospital denied her one.

Bernardo then tried to access care in Colorado, but was told there was a two-month waiting list for an appointment, according to the complaint. She ended up terminating her pregnancy in the state of Washington, where she was told she was the third patient from Texas the clinic had provided care for that week alone.

The women, who are represented by the Center of Reproductive Rights, are asking the court for a temporary injunction on Texas’s abortion bans as the case moves forward to protect other patients from going through the same heartbreaking experience as the plaintiffs.

“I deserved better — to be with my loved ones, caring for me in our home as we mourned the loss of our baby Emma,” Bernardo said at the press conference. “As I grieved, I couldn’t help but think of what I and so many others have gone through as inhumane torture.”

The Cut offers an online tool that allows you to search by Zip Code for professional providers, including clinics, hospitals, and independent OB/GYNs, as well as abortion funds, transportation options, and information for remote resources like receiving the abortion pill by mail. For legal guidance, contact Repro Legal Helpline at 844-868-2812 or The Abortion Defense Network.

Texas Woman Had Stillbirth After Hospital Threatened Her