Texas Supreme Court rules against woman at center of abortion fight

Kate Cox, the Dallas-area woman who petitioned a judge to get an abortion in Texas, has left the state for abortion care after a week of legal beatings.

The Texas Supreme Court late Friday temporarily blocked a lower court’s ruling that had allowed Cox to obtain abortions under the state’s nearly complete abortion ban, and later Monday night overturned the lower court’s decision .

Cox, a 31-year-old mother of two, sought an abortion after learning that her fetus had a lethal genetic condition and that carrying the pregnancy to term could jeopardize her future fertility. The case is the first case of an adult pregnant woman seeking permission to terminate her pregnancy under the abortion ban roe vs wade The decision was taken in 1973.

Travis County District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble issued a temporary restraining order on December 7 to allow Kate Cox’s doctor to perform abortions in Texas. (Video: AP)

The Cox lawsuit was widely seen as a test case for other abortion lawsuits across the country. Since the Supreme Court overturned it, advocacy groups have tried several different approaches to get the restrictions overturned in whole or in part or temporarily halted. Roe deer In June 2022. Recently, many cases have focused on women directly affected by the laws rather than abortion clinics or doctors.

The Center for Reproductive Rights, the organization representing Cox in the case, said earlier Monday that she could no longer wait for abortion care.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the past week of legal chaos has been hell for Kate. His health is going well. She kept being in and out of emergency rooms, and she couldn’t wait any longer.

Travis County District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble, an elected Democrat, on Thursday granted Cox a temporary restraining order to allow abortions under narrow exceptions to the state’s ban, which allows abortions in medical emergencies. But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) asked the Texas Supreme Court to intervene to prevent Cox from providing abortions.

Four women take the stand to explain how Texas abortion laws have harmed them

Separately, Paxton threatened legal action in a letter Thursday if Cox had the procedure in the state, warning doctors and hospitals that anyone involved in performing an abortion for Cox would face civil and criminal liability. That could include first-degree felony charges. They argued that Cox’s case did not meet all the elements required to fall under an exception to Texas abortion laws and that the judge was not medically qualified to make that determination.

The case gained national attention after Cox described in an op-ed for the Dallas Morning News how she decided to have an abortion after learning that her fetus had trisomy 18. Almost all such pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Children who survive often die prematurely.

I never thought I’d be in the position I’m in now. “Twenty weeks pregnant I am with a baby who will not survive and may jeopardize my health and future pregnancies,” Cox wrote.

She also explained why she was seeking legal permission in Texas for the procedure.

I’m a Texan. Why do I or any other woman need to travel or drive or fly hundreds of miles to do what we feel is best for ourselves and our families to determine our future? Cox said.

According to the initial complaint, Cox went to the emergency room at least three times during her pregnancy after she experienced severe cramps, diarrhea and leakage of an unknown fluid. Cox has previously had two cesarean sections and would likely need a third cesarean section if she were to carry this pregnancy to term, according to the complaint, a procedure that doctors say will harm her ability to have more children in the future. Capacity may be affected.

The state’s highest court found that the situation itself was not sufficient grounds to allow an exception.

The Texas Supreme Court wrote that any parent would be disappointed to learn of their unborn child’s trisomy 18 diagnosis. However, some difficulties in pregnancy, even serious ones, do not pose that much risk to the mother, so there are exceptions.

The leading professional association for OB/GYNs, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, emphasized the risks Cox faces in an amicus brief filed with the court on Monday.

According to the group, in addition to this devastating diagnosis, Ms. Cox faces additional risk factors. If Ms. Cox is forced to continue her pregnancy longer, her risk factors increase again.

States where abortion is legal, restricted, or at risk

Doctors and hospitals across the country followed closely as Cox’s legal battle unfolded.

In his letter Thursday, Paxton issued his most clear and credible threat yet to hospitals and doctors in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision. While medical professionals fear what might happen if abortion is later deemed illegal, no medical professionals have yet been prosecuted under the new abortion restrictions.

A doctor who performs an abortion in Texas could face life in prison.

Mary Ziegler, a law professor at the University of California at Davis who specializes in the politics of reproduction, said this is the most direct confrontation she has seen yet. There is some interest in prosecuting people who are in the broader abortion support network, but not doctors.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office was probably eager to prevent the Cox case from becoming a blueprint for future litigation across the country, Ziegler said.

Days after Cox filed the lawsuit, a second pregnant woman came forward with a lawsuit challenging the abortion ban in Kentucky. The class-action lawsuit, filed Friday, could have wide-ranging impacts on abortion access across the state. Instead of appealing her abortion, the unidentified pregnant woman is calling for the ban to be repealed entirely.

Cox’s lawsuit is not related to a separate, broader case in the state, Zurawski v. State of Texas, in which a group of women experiencing pregnancy complications sued the state over its abortion ban. The women claim the state law denied them proper health care and put their lives in danger. The Texas Supreme Court heard the case last month.

Pradnya Joshi contributed to this report.

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