In March 2023, five women filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas after being denied abortion care, despite experiencing pregnancy complications that threatened their lives. Two months later, eight additional women joined the case as new plaintiffs. The lawsuit, Zurawski v. State of Texas, is the first to challenge a state ban since Roe v. Wade was overturned on June 24, 2022. Women have long spoken out about their abortion stories, and the lack of access to reproductive health care in the U.S., but we rarely hear from the men who are also impacted.
That’s why Men’s Health reached out to two of the plaintiffs’ husbands—Josh Zurawski, 36, and Jason Miller, 36 (both of whom wanted their children)—to have a long-overdue conversation about how abortion and abortion bans impact men, too. Neither of these guys wanted to be here (this is the first time Miller has spoken to the press), but they felt it was imperative to join their wives in sharing their stories, and how these laws will affect other families like theirs.
Who They Are
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Based in Austin, Texas, Amanda & Josh Zurawski have been married for three-and-a-half years. They found out Amanda was pregnant in May 2022 after trying to conceive for about a year-and-a-half. Both of them were very excited to become first-time parents.
At 17 weeks pregnant, Amanda was diagnosed with cervical insufficiency and preterm pre-labor rupture of membranes (PPROM), meaning the fetus would not survive and her life was at risk. She was denied an abortion after visiting a hospital in Austin because the doctors could still detect fetal cardiac activity.
Three days later, she developed sepsis, a life-threatening infection. Only then—near death—was she able to get an emergency abortion. She spent the next three days in the ICU fighting for her life. As a result of the sepsis, one of her fallopian tubes was damaged, making it harder for her to become pregnant again in the future.
Men’s Health: Thank you both for being here today. You bring a really important perspective for our readers when it comes to abortion and abortion access. Have you two met before?
Josh: Yeah, we met on the day that the lawsuit was filed.
Jason: Yep. Down in Austin.
Josh: At the State Capitol.
What was that day like?
Jason: Well, we drove down from Dallas, so it started bright and early for us. I was really proud of Lauren and all the other women who came forward and shared their stories. Everybody’s story was awful in its own way, but it was inspiring to see them up there trying to make a difference in this fight for abortion access.
Josh: We were the first couple to join the lawsuit. Amanda and I, we’ve always been fighters and we don’t get bullied easily. We just said, “Whatever happens, happens and this is what it’s going to be.” We didn’t really give it a lot of thought. What I was probably the most amazed with that day was all of the women had different levels of how comfortable they are with being in public telling their story, standing up and fighting. It was amazing to hear them talk and to work up their courage to get their voice out there and stand up for what they felt was right.
How did it feel to see the parallels between all these people? Your stories are different, but at the same time similar.
Jason: I haven’t shared this story publicly yet. I’ve told it to a few friends, but most of our story has been told through Lauren’s lens so far. When we sat down to film the videos for [Men’s Health] that was really the first time I actually collected my thoughts on what had occurred to us. All five women have such different stories, but really I think the parallel is every single one of them needed an abortion, was right to seek one, and was wronged in the way that they either had to travel like we did or wait until a medical emergency where somebody was close to death, like Amanda and Josh’s story. No matter how you cut it, every single one of these women needed and deserved to get an abortion and they should have been able to do that here in Texas.
Did speaking to the press help you process what happened? What has that experience been like for both of you?
Josh: So, our first on-camera interview was 10 days after Amanda left the hospital, which was very raw. Looking back, we probably weren’t ready to do it, but at the same time it was cathartic to be able to talk about it and say, “This happened and this isn’t right, and we don’t believe this is what should happen to people.” In a lot of ways, it helped us come to terms with the reality of what happened.
Jason: Yeah, I agree with Josh. We had to travel to Colorado to get the single reduction abortion [an abortion procedure for pregnancies with multiple fetuses, where you can terminate one fetus] and then I was back to work two days later. So there wasn’t really any opportunity for me to process this and be with my family in the immediate aftermath. And then we’re also still juggling a toddler. Our son, Logan, he’s 23 months old right now. At the time, he had just started walking and we were managing that while Lauren was also pregnant, which was certainly taxing. Then by the time Henry [the viable twin] came along and everything was ramping up again, I was just trying to catch my breath. I’m hoping to find my voice a little bit more as we continue on this journey.
Josh: I did not take time off work. That was a huge mistake. There’s always this notion that men are supposed to be tough and strong and should be able to go back to work right away. And that’s just ridiculous. I should have definitely taken time.
Jason: Yeah, I completely agree. I could have and I didn’t. I think part of that was just wanting to bury it and not deal with it and just…I don’t want to say move on because I think it’s still something that I’m processing and certainly Lauren is, but obviously in a different way. I did not have a baby inside my body that is no longer there. But emotionally it takes a huge toll that I think it would’ve been a beneficial thing to process at the time it occurred.
A lot of guys can probably relate to that, too…feeling like they can’t have that period of grief the same way their partner carrying the baby can. It’s hard for guys to really navigate that, especially when you don’t often hear abortion stories from the male perspective.
Josh: Yes, definitely. There are also a lot of male politicians who passed these laws who didn’t realize that this was going to impact so many women. Not understanding pregnancy, in general, has huge implications all the way around, from being a spouse to the people who passed these laws.
Jason: Politicians are not doctors. They shouldn’t be putting their office above health care decisions. [Abortion] is basic health care and women should have access to it. They used to have access in this country until some extremists decided that they shouldn’t anymore.
Josh: [Amanda and I] have been to D.C. a few times and we’ve met with various House members and senators. One of the House members asked us what’s the fastest way to help change this situation and I don’t think she was expecting this response but I said, “Actually, the fastest way that this is going to change is if the male view in this country changes.” Because if you just look at the numbers, overwhelmingly non-men are all for abortion access and health care. And then you look at the male side of things and it’s a topic that is just not salient in people’s minds when they come to vote or when it comes to even discussing or understanding what pregnancy is. If we want to change the story long term, we’ve got to reach men.
Yes, and what’s important to note is that both of your wives wanted their kids. Abortion is not just about unwanted pregnancy.
Josh: One of the sad arguments that we hear all the time is, “Oh, well, you’re pro-choice so that means you’re okay if a woman who’s 34 weeks is going to want to have an abortion.” And it’s like, “Well, that’s not how it works.” Maybe there’s a person who’s 34 weeks in and they need to abort their pregnancy for a health reason. It still is needed. This lawsuit is all about access to emergency health care. That should be something that everybody in this country should say, “Yes, that should be okay,” and somehow our state is still fighting against it. It’s bizarre. I can’t understand it.
Jason, as you mentioned, your wife had to travel out of state for her abortion. A lot of people don’t have that same privilege. Do you ever think about what could have happened should you not have been able to travel out of state?
Jason: Every day. Lauren ended up in the ER twice while she was pregnant with twins. She had hyperemesis gravidarum, which is extreme morning sickness where she would go more than 24 hours without being able to keep down any food or water. After we got a diagnosis of Trisomy 18, we knew that we needed a single reduction abortion to protect Lauren and the health of our other twin. Three days after that diagnosis was confirmed by a maternal-fetal medicine doctor, Lauren ended up back in the ER for a second time. So while we’re coordinating this out-of-state trip to Colorado to be able to get access to this abortion health care, Lauren ended up back in the ER.
The only way we were able to get this out-of-state care so quickly was because we know a lot of people in that field who pointed us in the right direction. Without that and without Lauren taking ownership of her own health care, who knows what would’ve happened?
Josh: When Amanda finally was able to be “treated at a hospital,” and I use that in air quotes because we were denied so many times. When she was finally incoherent and had 103 (and still spiking) fever, it was about a 24-hour period where we weren’t sure if she was going to make it, and it was a really dizzying experience. When the dust finally settled, and this is when Amanda was out of the ICU and we were pretty confident she was going to recover, I had some time to think about that day and that week and what it meant going forward. The number one thing I thought was, first of all, we have great health care, Amanda has a partner who can take time off work.
There are going to be people all over these states that don’t have the resources to leave the state. We’ve already seen in some counties where there aren’t any doctors left because they’re like, “We can’t practice here.” So, what do you do when there isn’t even a doctor left? Not get pregnant if you live in one of those counties? It’s scary.
Were you both hyper-aware of the abortion bans in Texas while going through your respective pregnancies?
Jason: Yes. We were very aware of the political landscape and the legal situation that was thrust upon us. It was concerning. We were on a family trip when the Dobbs decision came down from the Supreme Court. Then being in Texas, knowing the trigger laws that had been passed in the lead-up to that decision. You don’t start a pregnancy expecting to need an abortion, especially in our case. We wanted to have another child, and we were going to have two. That was a shocker at the beginning, but we weren’t like, “Hey, let’s get pregnant so we can get an abortion.” That’s insane. Who would want to do that?
Josh: What was really chilling about the whole thing, too, was we had just gone through the January 6 [insurrection]. My family’s from Indiana, so no surprise there are a lot of red voters in my family. I’d been saying Trump’s going to lose this election and he’s not going to back down. He’s going to try to stay in office. And everybody said, “Oh, that’s not going to happen. He’s not going to do that.” And I said, “Well, he’s saying it out loud, so it’s going to happen and we’re going to be in for a real shit show.” And sure enough, it happened.
Then when Dobbs leaked, Amanda and I were in the middle of trying to get pregnant for the first time and talking to my family again and saying, “This is happening. It’s coming. And it could definitely impact Amanda and I. We’re trying to have kids. There could be an issue with Amanda’s pregnancy.” And my family, again, was like, “Well, I mean, this is all theoretical. It might not actually pass, and if it does pass, states aren’t going to pass these laws. They’re not going to be that bad.” When they heard what happened to us, it was like all of a sudden the light bulb went off with my entire family: It isn’t just politics. It actually hurts real people.
It’s been one year since Roe was overturned. What would you say to guys who may be going through something similar with their partner, or haven’t been confronted with these strict abortion laws yet?
Josh: If you live in a place like Texas or any of these states where there’s limited access to health care and you’re planning for a family A) you need to learn about pregnancy. You need to learn about what happens. You need to learn about the risks. You need to learn about what’s available in your state, and what’s not available. You need to make a game plan. That’s the reality right now. Because in some of these states, you can’t rely on doctors anymore. You have to be your own advocate. You really have to get educated or you could find yourself in a situation that you don’t want to be in and are unprepared to be in.
The other thing is that this is a topic that men are going to have to decide, do they want this to be a political thing or not? And if they don’t want it to be a political thing, don’t vote for the people that are making it political. It’s not about left or right. Just don’t vote for candidates that are supporting these kind of laws because you are now putting your friends and family and wife and daughter at risk. The way it’s going to change is if men get in the fight and stand up for the women in their lives.
If you have the means, consider donating to the National Network of Abortion Funds to provide support for people with financial and logistical obstacles who are seeking abortions.
Rachel Epstein is the Deputy Editor at Men’s Health, where she oversees, edits, and assigns content across MensHealth.com. She previously held roles at Marie Claire and Coveteur. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game or finding a new coffee shop.