Mother forced to give birth to stillborn son joins lawsuit against Texas abortion ban

A Texas mother who was forced to give birth to her stillborn son in Texas has joined a lawsuit against the state with seven other women who were denied abortions while facing severe pregnancy complications.

Kiersten Hogan, from the Dallas-Forth Worth area, shared her personal experience of being denied reproductive healthcare in Texas while facing severe pregnancy complications with The Center for Reproductive Rights.

“I was made to feel less than human,” Ms Hogan said. “Texas law caused me to be detained against my will for five days and treated like a criminal, all during the most traumatic and heartbreaking experience of my life.”

Ms Hogan found out she was pregnant in June 2021 while living in Oklahoma with her boyfriend. According to her testimony, she was surprised by the news as she had a history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and miscarriages but she was excited.

Shortly after finding out, Ms Hogan said she was forced to leave her boyfriend because he became violent and insisted she get an abortion. She moved to Texas to seek a new life.

In the first few months of pregnancy, Ms Hogan went to the emergency room multiple times with cramping and bleeding. Doctors insisted everything was okay, she said. But at 19 weeks pregnant in September 2021, Ms Hogan’s water broke and she experienced cervical insufficiency.

However, Ms Hogan was unable to obtain an abortion due to Texas law SB 8 which outlawed abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable in all cases unless the mother’s life is at risk.

SB 8 went into effect on 1 September 2021

Ms Hogan was forced to stay in the hospital until she went into labour or her condition worsened to the point where hospital staff could give her an abortion.

Hospital staff told Ms Hogan if she tried to leave it could be used as evidence that she was trying to kill her baby and criminal charges could be brought against her.

For four days, Ms Hogan said she felt “trapped” and “terrified” inside the hospital as she waited until she gave birth to her stillborn son.

Now, Ms Hogan is joining the lawsuit Zurawski v State of Texas, filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of women denied abortions since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade.

Ms Hogan said, “I’m joining this case because women deserve better.”

The lawsuit, initially filed in March 2023 on behalf of five Texas women, is demanding the state of Texas “clarify the scope of the state’s ‘medial emergency’ exception under its extreme abortion bans,” according to The Center for Reproductive Rights.

Since its filing, eight more women have joined and three have shared their stories of experiencing a lack of healthcare during a terrifying time in their life- including Ms Hogan.

Molly Duane, Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights said in a statement, “The Texas government must answer for their laws that have nearly killed these women and that put more lives at risk every day.”

“It is clearer than ever that abortion is a vital part of maternal health care, and health care decisions should be left to doctors and patients, not politicians. The court must act now to protect pregnant Texas.”