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2 women who say abortion restrictions put them in medical peril feel compelled to campaign for Biden

By The Associated Press
Posted 10:21AM on Sunday 7th April 2024 ( 2 months ago )

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Texas woman who went into premature labor, developed sepsis and nearly died and a Louisiana woman who said restrictive abortion laws prevented her from getting medical help for a miscarriage are now campaigning for President Joe Biden as the Democrat highlights how women's health is being affected by the overturning of federal abortion protections.

Amanda Zurawski and Kaitlyn Joshua will travel to North Carolina and Wisconsin over the next two weeks to meet with doctors, local officials and voters. The Biden campaign sees their stories as potent firsthand accounts of the growing medical peril for many women as abortion restrictions pushed by Republicans complicate health care.

“The abortion topic is a very heavy topic, and I understand that, said Joshua, 31, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. ”But I also understand and believe that the Biden and Harris administration is the only administration that could do anything remotely close to addressing the abortion bans ... and then also doing a deeper dive into research and understanding women’s health in general.”

Biden and Democrats see reproductive health as a major driver for the 2024 election as the president and his proxies blame Republican Donald Trump, whose judicial nominations paved the way for the Supreme Court’s conservative majority decision in 2022 that overturned abortion rights codified by Roe v. Wade.

Republicans, including Trump, are struggling to figure out how to talk about the issue, if at all. Trump has both taken credit for the overturning of Roe and suggested abortion should be legal until 15 weeks, and has promised to make a statement outlining his policies this week.

Since the high court's ruling, voters have approved a number of statewide ballot initiatives to preserve or expand the right to abortion. Support for abortion access drove women to the polls during the 2022 midterm elections, delivering Democrats unexpected success.

About two-thirds of Americans say abortion should generally be legal, according to polling by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Only about one-quarter say abortion should always be legal and only about 1 in 10 say it should always be illegal.

Joshua and her husband were excited to be having a second baby. But she started to experience bleeding and serious pain at about 11 weeks. She suspected she was miscarrying.

At an emergency room in Baton Rouge, doctors examined her but wouldn't confirm she was miscarrying or discuss medical options, she said. She was sent home to wait. The bleeding worsened, and she went to a second hospital where again, doctors sent her home and told her to contact her doctor in a few days. A midwife eventually confirmed that Joshua had miscarried.

“Something that sounds as simple as dealing with a miscarriage can’t even be met with a true diagnosis anymore,” Joshua said. “It’s kind of wild, right? And it’s really frightening.”

Joshua and Zurawski will be in Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte, North Carolina, on Wednesday, a state Biden hopes to flip. The state has enacted a law banning most abortions after 12 weeks, overriding a veto from the Democratic governor.

The week after that, they will visit Milwaukee, Eau Claire and Madison, Wisconsin, a state Biden won in 2020. Republicans in the state Assembly tried to set up a statewide referendum on the April ballot banning abortion after 14 weeks of pregnancy — more restrictive than current law — but the legislative session ended without a state Senate vote.

Both women said they felt compelled to get into politics after their own experiences.

“People don’t get how bad it is, and they don’t get how bleak it is," Zurawski said. “And so the more we continue to share our stories. ... I think it’s really important to spread awareness and paint this picture.”

Zurawski, 37, of Austin sued Texas last year after she and other women could not get medical care because of the state's abortion laws. She had been in her second trimester, after 18 months of fertility treatments, when she went into early labor and was told the baby would not survive. Doctors said they could not intervene to provide an abortion because Zurawski wasn't in enough medical danger.

Zurawski had to wait. Three days later, her condition rapidly worsened and she developed sepsis, a dangerous medical condition in which the body responds improperly to an infection. She stabilized long enough to deliver a stillborn girl, whom she named Willow. Zurawski then spent days in intensive care.

She recently returned from a family trip to Disney World and said, "I thought I'd be coming home from that trip with a 1-year-old and be putting her down for a nap.”

"But instead I'm doing this interview to help campaign for Biden," Zurawski said. "It's just the complete opposite world than I ever would have seen myself in.”

FILE - President Joe Biden speaks about abortion access during a Democratic National Committee event Oct. 18, 2022, in Washington. As he campaigns for a second term, Biden is highlighting how women’s health has been affected by the overturning of federal abortion protections. His campaign is getting help from two women who say abortion restrictions put them in medical peril. Amanda Zurawski of Texas and Kaitlyn Joshua of Louisiana say their personal experiences are driving them to campaign for Biden in North Carolina and Wisconsin over the next two weeks. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
FILE - Amanda Zurawski testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 26, 2023. As he campaigns for a second term, President Joe Biden is highlighting how women’s health has been affected by the overturning of federal abortion protections. His campaign is getting help from two women who say abortion restrictions put them in medical peril. Zurawski, of Texas, and Kaitlyn Joshua, of Louisiana, say their personal experiences are driving them to campaign for Biden in North Carolina and Wisconsin over the next two weeks. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

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