Austinite Amanda Zurawski among First Lady's guests at Biden's State of the Union address

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Amanda Zurawski, the Austin woman whose life-threatening miscarriage drew national media attention to Texas’ anti-abortion laws, will be a guest of First Lady Jill Biden during tonight’s State of the Union address.

“We are beyond excited and honored to be invited to today’s State of the Union address and are so grateful to the First Lady for her gracious invitation,” said Amanda Zurawski, who will attend the event with her husband, Josh.

“We are delighted that President Biden is making abortion access a priority issue,” she added, “and are hopeful that this will help highlight for the American people the devastating impacts the restrictive antiabortion laws are having on women."

Texas' abortion laws forced Amanda Zurawski to be near death before receiving care

As the Statesman reported last fall, the couple had gone through a year and half of fertility treatments before finally becoming pregnant. Then last August, 18 weeks into the pregnancy, Amanda Zurawski began having a miscarriage.

Doctors could not save the pregnancy. Nor could they end it, because at that time the fetus had a faint heartbeat and Zurawski’s life was not yet in danger. Under Texas law, doctors cannot terminate a pregnancy with a fetal heartbeat unless the patient is having “a medical emergency.”

Amanda Zurawski was sent home to wait for the pregnancy to end on its own. Instead, three days later, she developed sepsis and was rushed back to the hospital with a raging fever and dangerously low blood pressure.

Finally, doctors could intervene.

In the aftermath of that trauma, the Zurawskis went public with their story last October, to show how strict abortion bans interfere with the care some patients need. The couple later appeared in an ad for Beto O’Rourke’s gubernatorial campaign.

Amanda Zurawski's ordeal noted in Roe v. Wade decision anniversary speech

Two weeks ago, Amanda Zurawski was mentioned in Vice President Kamala Harris’ speech on the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, overturned last year by the Supreme Court.

“In the midst of a miscarriage, she was denied treatment three times in three days at an emergency room because of that state’s abortion ban,” Harris said. “And only after she developed sepsis, an infection that almost killed her, did the hospital finally admit her.”

The vice president thanked the couple for attending that Jan. 22 speech in Tallahassee and praised them “for having the courage to tell their story in a way that will inspire so many individuals and their families to know they are not alone.”

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Dogget, D-Austin, said Tuesday that it's "wonderful to welcome Amanda to Washington, but horrible that she needs to be here."

"Her life was endangered by Texas Republican extremists with a radical law that not only denies abortion but denies the ability of physicians to safeguard women’s health," Doggett told the Statesman. "Now these same extremists are demanding a rigid national ban on abortion and restrictions on contraception.”

At last month's Texas Rally for Life, Gov. Greg Abbott touted the state's abortion bans as life-saving measures. "We promised we would protect the life of every child with a heartbeat, and we did,” Abbott said.

Still, in an interview last October with Dallas TV station WFAA, Abbott acknowledged there are “situations that some women are going through where they are not getting the health care they need to protect their life.” The governor said "that must be clarified" this legislative session.

Who are Jill Biden's other guests at SOTU speech?

The White House says the First Lady will have 25 guests in attendance, including:

  • RowVaughn and Rodney Wells, the mother and stepfather of Tyre Nichols, the 29-year old unarmed Black man who was severely beaten by multiple police officers during an alleged traffic stop in Memphis.

  • Brandon Tsay, the San Marino, Calif. man who disarmed the shooter who killed 11 people and injured 10 others in the mass shooting at the Monterey Park Lunar New Year celebrations.

  • Paul Pelosi, the husband of former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who was assaulted at his California home last fall in a politically motivated attack.

  • Doug Griffin, a New Hampshire man who has been raising awareness and supporting families affected by addiction since losing his 20-year-old daughter, Courtney, in 2014 to a fentanyl overdose.

  • Bono, the lead singer of U2, who played a pivotal role 20 years ago in building support for the creation of PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), a program announced by then-President George W. Bush in his State of the Union and championed by then-Sen. Biden. PEPFAR is credited with revolutionizing the provision of life-saving HIV medications in poorer countries and saving 25 million lives worldwide.

What time is the State of the Union?

President Joe Biden will give his address at 8 p.m. Central time. Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will give the Republican response after Biden’s speech.

The major TV networks and other news outlets, such as Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and PBS, are providing live coverage of the address, in addition to some online livestreams.

The speech will be livestreamed by USA TODAY, and readers can track live updates during the speech at

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Amanda Zurawski among Jill Biden's State of the Union guests