One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: Celebrating a Win for Mexico Women, Mourning a Loss for Texas Ones

Claudia Sheinbaum after the first results released by the election authorities show that she leads the polls by a wide margin in Zocalo Square on June 3, 2024, in Mexico City. (Manuel Velasquez / Getty Images)

The start of this week marked a feminist milestone for our southern neighbors: the election of the first-ever woman president in Mexico—a culmination of decades of political interventions like gender quotas and parity mandates aimed expressly at elevating more women to higher office. 

Just days before, in Texas—home to 10 percent of U.S. women of reproductive age—the state Supreme Court issued a huge loss to women, in the form of a callous ruling that forces pregnancy on women until (and even past) the brink of death and mandates them to continue pregnancies even when their fetus has no chance of survival after birth. To wish such suffering on pregnant Texans and their children goes beyond heartless indifference. It is violent and inhumane.

I live in Texas. What happens in Mexico matters here. But my attempts to both celebrate for my Mexican sisters and mourn with my Texas ones is becoming too much to bear. 

On Tuesday, news broke of yet another Texas woman who was miscarrying at 13 weeks, sent away from two Dallas hospitals to eventually pass out from loss of blood, rather than treat her surgically with a dilation and curettage, the standard of care to avoid infection and eventual sepsis after a devastating pregnancy loss.

“She told the doctor, ‘Get this dead baby out of me,’” the woman’s husband, Ryan Hamilton, told the Dallas Morning News through tears. “And they asked her to leave.” (Hamilton’s gut-wrenching social media post is worth a full read.)

To wish such suffering on pregnant Texans and their children goes beyond heartless indifference. It is violent and inhumane.

Last week’s Texas Supreme Court ruling stems from the Zurawski v. Texas case, brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of two doctors and 20 Texas women with pregnancy complications denied abortion care as a result of state abortion bans, including some who almost died. The plaintiffs argued the ambiguous language in the law had resulted in “pervasive fear and uncertainty among doctors as to when they can provide legal abortions.” In Texas, doctors found violating Texas’ abortion bans face up to 99 years in prison, at least $100,000 in fines and the loss of their medical license. 

Abortion rights demonstrators protest outside the Bob Casey Federal Courthouse on June, 24, 2022, in Houston, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade that guaranteed the constitutional right to an abortion. (Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle via Getty Images)

Like the Dallas woman who fainted at home covered in blood, Zurawski plaintiffs carrying desperately wanted pregnancies were also denied abortion care by Texas hospitals, putting their physical and mental health in jeopardy. Among them:

  • At Dr. Austin Dennard’s 11-week appointment in 2022, she found out her fetus had anencephaly, meaning it was developing without part of the brain and skull. As an OB-GYN herself, Dennard was horrified, picturing her would-be child’s quality of life. Knowing she would not qualify under the exceptions of Texas’ abortion bans, since the risks were not immediate, Dennard traveled out of state to get abortion care so that she would not be forced to carry a nonviable pregnancy to term. 
  • Samantha Casiano also received an anencephaly diagnosis during a routine ultrasound. She sought help from her obstetrician, who simply prescribed her an antidepressant and told her she had no other options because, as Casiano recounted, “the Texas abortion law prohibited it.” Casiano was unable to travel out of state due to obstacles she would face traveling, including financial constraints and potential legal complications. Her daughter Halo died four hours after birth.
  • Even though Amanda Zurawski’s doctor told her a miscarriage was inevitable, she said she could not intervene because of the trigger ban, which took effect that week. Only when she was septic and close to death, was she provided an abortion and forced to deliver a fetus that had died in utero. As a result of her sepsis, Zurawski will suffer lasting effects to her fertility, including dense scarring, the permanent closure of one of her fallopian tubes and a collapsed uterus.
  • At Ashley Brandt’s 13-week ultrasound, she was informed one of her twins had developed without a skull—a condition called acrania, which is considered incompatible with life. Selective fetal reduction is the standard of care in this case to preserve the life of the remaining fetus, but doctors in Texas refused to provide the procedure to Brandt due to fear of prosecution. She and her husband decided to travel to Colorado, a state without an abortion ban, to have the procedure performed. If she had not left the state, Brandt said she would have been “forced to give birth to an identical version of my daughter without a skull and without a brain and hold her until she died. … Instead I got to give birth to my healthy daughter. Instead of crying tears of heartbreak, I was crying tears of relief.”

I share these stories not because they are harrowing and hard to read (even though they are)—but because, despite the terror and grief running as a throughline between all of them, hearing these women tell their horror stories in their own words was not enough to sway the far-right Texas Supreme Court. 

The husband of the Dallas woman experiencing a miscarriage described his wife as “a very strong Texas woman.” Women living in this state have no other choice than to be tough—for ourselves and for each other, bracing for laws and rulings that seek to punish, control and inflict pain on us and our families.

Three Texas Supreme Court justices—Jimmy Blacklock, John Devine and Jane Bland—are up for reelection this November. This decision from the court serves as a grave reminder of the importance of mobilizing around judicial elections. And the victory in Mexico, the opposite: how representative and diverse democracies with active electorates bring women and women’s issues to the forefront of elections.

Felicidades a mis hermanas en México. And buena suerte—good luck—to my sisters in Texas. You are not alone.


For help, please look to these trusted groups:

(Thanks to Jessica Valenti of Abortion, Every Day for this list.)

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Roxanne Szal (or Roxy) is the managing digital editor at Ms. and a producer on the Ms. podcast On the Issues With Michele Goodwin. She is also a mentor editor for The OpEd Project. Before becoming a journalist, she was a Texas public school English teacher. She is based in Austin, Texas. Find her on Twitter @roxyszal.