Texas Abortion Laws Prevented This Woman From Inducing Labor for Her Dying Fetus

Texas Abortion Laws Prevented This Woman From Inducing Labor for Her Dying Fetus

After being informed 20 weeks into her pregnancy that due to complications the fetus had no chance of survival, Texas woman Taylor Mahaffey, 23, was forced to wait for it to die in the womb because of to a state law that prevented her from aborting it. 

Mahaffey and her husband, Daniel, 29, are now advocating to change the law in Texas, which prohibits abortions after 20 weeks, and which they have repeatedly described as "inhumane." 

The Austin-based couple went to St. David's Medical Center on March 23. "By the time we got to the hospital, [the fetus'] feet were already coming out of the womb and pushing through the cervix," Daniel wrote in a Reddit post Sunday. 

Legally unable to induce the labor, which would ultimately lead to the fetus' death, the hospital sent the couple home. 

"These laws made my wife feel our child struggle inside her for days," Daniel wrote in his post. "We cried ourselves to sleep every night. We spent four days in and out of the hospital waiting for nature to take its course.

"Regardless of where one stands on pro-choice vs. pro-life, I think that we can all agree that forcing a person to go through labor for a non-viable baby is cruel, inhumane and morally indefensible."

Taylor posted her own account of events Sunday on Facebook, also imploring people to advocate for a change in the law.

"Regardless if you are pro-choice or pro-life, I'm sure that we can all agree, this system isn't working," she wrote. "So please, if you have a moment, write a letter to your local reps. Tell them the truth. These laws are godless."

The legislation in question bans abortions after 20 weeks unless the mother's life is threatened, citing largely unsubstantiated claims the fetus is capable of feeling pain. 

"This bill is extremely intrusive into the practice of medicine," Bradley Price, an OB-GYN at St. David's Medical Center, told the Daily Beast. Price spoke on behalf of the Texas District of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and also testified in front of the House State Affairs committee in 2013 when it was considering the bill proposal.

Price warns the law lacks sufficient medical evidence for it to allow for "safe and proven protocols" for women. 

A research paper in Clinical Review, "Fetal Pain: A Systematic Multidisciplinary Review of the Evidence," authored by four doctors and a lawyer, makes a similar argument. 

"Pain perception requires conscious recognition or awareness of a noxious stimulus," the paper states. "Neither withdrawal reflexes nor hormonal stress responses to invasive procedures prove the existence of fetal pain, because they can be elicited by nonpainful stimuli and occur without conscious cortical processing."

Irrespective of the contradictory evidence, 16 states have some variant of the 20-week abortion ban.

"If you're worried about pain at 20 weeks, what about pain at 40 weeks?" Price queried. "Are we going to ask babies to go through the birth canal still? Is vaginal delivery out of the question? If you take it to an illogical conclusion, that's where you go."

h/t the Daily Beast