HOUSTON — Dr. Amanda Horton, an obstetrician who specializes in high-risk pregnancies, had been counseling pregnant patients at a small hospital in rural Texas last month when a woman arrived in crisis: It was only 17 weeks into her pregnancy and her water had broken.
The fetus would not be viable outside the womb, and without the protection of the amniotic sac, the woman was vulnerable to an infection that could threaten her life. In Colorado or Illinois, states where Dr. Horton also practices and where abortion is generally legal, there would have been an option to end her pregnancy.
Texas has a ban on most abortions, providing an exception when a woman’s life is threatened. But the patient’s life in this case was not in immediate danger — yet. The hospital sent her home to wait for signs of infection or labor, Dr. Horton said.